What is the appropriate measure of diffidence/deference to be accorded to the MPT?

Dr Sastry & Dr Okpara v GMC [2021] EWCA Civ 623

Both Dr Sastry and Dr Okpara appealed against decisions by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) to erase their names from the register. Both appeals were dismissed at first instance as the High Court on each occasion was reluctant to interfere with the original tribunal’s decision.

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Government partially amends Coronavirus Act 2020 easements

We wrote this time last year about the introduction of easements to the 2014 Care Act via the Coronavirus Act 2020 (see here).  These easements allowed local authorities not to carry out certain duties placed up on them by the 2014 Act if the workforce was significantly depleted due to the pandemic or Care Act duties could not be met due to demand. 

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Care homes vaccinations consultation

Government launches consultation on staff COVID-19 vaccines in care homes with older adult residents.

A five-week consultation has been launched in a bid to further protect care home residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. The consultation is seeking views from staff, care home providers, stakeholder, residents and their families on a proposal to make vaccines compulsory, by making it a condition of employment for all staff who are deployed in care homes with older residents.

In practice and in order to achieve this, the Government is considering amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, which would mean that older adult care homes could legally only deploy staff who have received the COVID-19 vaccination, unless they are exempt for medical reasons. It appears that cultural or religious objections to the vaccines will not be exempt.

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Regulatory Reform – the wheels are in motion

On 24 March 2021 the Department of Health and Social Care published an open consultation “Regulating Health Care Professionals, Protecting the Public“.  The consultation is set to run until 16 June 2021.

The consultation has been keenly awaited and follows the Government response of July 2019 to a consultation run in 2017.  Whilst change has been delayed owing to issues such as Brexit and, of course, the pandemic, it seems we are edging closer to reform of professional regulation.

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CQC publishes report “Protect, respect, connect – decisions about living and dying well during COVID-19”

The CQC has completed its review of  ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ decisions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and has published its findings on 18 March 2021 CQC report – Protect, respect, connect. It has, rightly, received much publicity which will hopefully mean that the recommendations contained in the report will be followed.

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Further calls for tech developments for the Social Care Sector

We have previously written on this blog about the growing use of technology in the social care sphere, and how existing tech can be adapted and developed in particular for use in the care of the elderly. Now, an open letter has been written to the Prime Minister urging him to prioritize funding for the development of technology in the social care sector (see here for a copy of the letter ). The letter is written by PainChek, a medical technology company and is supported by various social care bodies such as Care England, the National Care Forum and the National Care Association. The letter emphasises that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the country’s biggest “silent killer” and seriously affect the lives of many people.

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Memorandum of understanding agreed between Equality and Human Rights Commission and the CQC

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.

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Updated Guidance on the Statutory Duty of Candour: Greater Clarity for Registered Providers

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have published updated guidance on meeting the duty of candour.

The updated guidance, which can be viewed here, applies to all health and social care providers registered with the CQC.

The update provides a more detailed explanation of what a notifiable safety incident is and now makes clear that the apology which is required as part of fulfilling the duty does not equate to an admission of liability. As such, an apology will not affect a provider’s indemnity cover.

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The Government’s new approach on visiting care home residents

The guidance for friends and family visiting loved ones in care homes was updated on 4 March 2021 to reflect the announcements in the new lockdown roadmap published on the 22 February 2021.  The full guidance can be found here.

Each care home will  allow its residents to name one person who can make a regular indoor visit, which as far as possible should remain the same person. The single named visitor will need to take a rapid (lateral flow) test and wear PPE every time they visit. This affords the individual a regular indoor visit, sitting in the same room as their loved one, with no screen between them. The government still strongly advises against physical contact and that close contact like hugging should be avoided.

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CQC Consultation: will flexible regulation lead to excessive discretion?

In January 2021, the CQC published its consultation on changes for flexible regulation.

The formal consultation follows the announcement on 24 November 2020 by the Department of Health and Social Care that we would shortly be expecting a new CQC strategy  to ‘reduce bureaucracy’ through regulatory change.

The consultation proposes a move away from periodic on-site inspections of care providers and towards a regulatory process of wider data-gathering to proactively assess quality of care and determine risk. This strategy echoes the CQC’s new ‘transitional regulatory approach’ (TRA) that it announced in September 2020 in response to the pandemic. In our article responding to the new approach, we warned that the CQC would not be returning to ‘business as usual’ and it now seems to be the case that the CQC’s response to the pandemic will become a permanent way of regulating.

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