The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is an independent statutory body responsible for the encouragement of equality and diversity and the protection and promotion of human rights in Britain.
Applying to England only, these bodies have agreed a memorandum of understanding detailing improved co-operation and exchange of information between them on equality and human rights issues.
The aim of the agreement is to advance equality issues and reduce and ultimately eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct which is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. The CQC has no direct enforcement powers in relation to the Equality Act 2010 but the memorandum of understanding acknowledges that the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 to which state backed healthcare within England adheres are closely aligned with the Equality Act 2010. With the EHRC’s responsibilities stemming from the Equality Act 2010 the memorandum of understanding will enable the CQC to refer issues that come to their attention which would be best addressed under the Equality Act to the EHRC.
One would expect that if the EHRC consider that following investigation and after referral an intervention is necessary due to a potential contravention of the Equality Act 2010 by a CQC registrant, that the issue may be then transferred back to the CQC for further investigation and potential action by the CQC concerning that care provider’s registration.
Whilst referrals between these bodies may have occurred in the past, the memorandum of understanding makes that relationship more formal. Those registered with the CQC and advisors of providers registered with the CQC should be live to the possibility of referral of complaints to the EHRC resulting in that complaint being investigated in more than just the forum.
The memorandum of understanding also creates the possibility of referrals between these bodies during the life of an investigation should issues relevant to the other’s ambit be discovered.