MPs approve compulsory vaccinations in the care home sector

We recently commented on the government’s plans for vaccinations to become mandatory for all care home workers. Yesterday, MPs approved this initiative despite a small number of dissenting voices within the Conservative rank and file. Passing with a majority of 319 votes to 246, anyone working in a care home registered with the Care Quality Commission in England must have had two vaccine doses by October, unless they have a medical exemption.

The feuding within the Conservative party appears to focus on the lack of any published impact assessment of the policy before the vote (Health Minister, Helen Whately told MPs this was being worked on), something which many argue is imperative when balancing risks and imposing such measures on an entire (and already stretched) healthcare sector particularly in a group of workers which has a very low take up of the vaccine.

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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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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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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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CQC investigates care homes staff working with COVID-19

The recent staff shortages in care homes have been well documented.  The pandemic has meant staff have increasingly had to self isolate and have suffered sickness themselves, causing an intolerably high increase in absence across the sector. What has come to light more recently however,  is that the CQC is investigating concerns that staff with COVID-19 have  been asked to come into work, even after a COVID-19 positive test result.

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“Busting Bureaucracy” a step in the right direction?

On 24 November, the Department of Health and Social Care announced a new drive to ‘bust bureaucracy’, locking in changes introduced in the pandemic with the aim of allowing front line health and care staff to focus more on care provision and less on paperwork. Here, I focus on the changes that may be of the greatest interest to regulated organisations and individuals.

The report can be found here.

A call for evidence was made in July, with the message in response highlighting that changes introduced in light of the pandemic were changes made for the better. Respondees did not want to revert to old ways.

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The care sector, Covid-19 and claims: is litigation unavoidable?

Many of you will have seen the reports of the crowdfunded claim being brought by Dr Cathy Gardner against the UK government in relation to their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Gardner has sought judicial review of government policy relating to the decision to discharge Covid-19 positive patients to care homes when those already resident in the care homes were vulnerable. She wishes to obtain an explanation of what policies were put in place to ensure a ‘protective ring’ was placed around care homes but as at the time of preparing this article, Dr Gardner is of the view that the response from the government is insufficient.

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Protecting the vulnerable in the midst of COVID-19

Our recent blogs have consistently focused on this developing saga as COVID-19 continues and as we as a nation compare ourselves to our counterparts, we are increasingly coming up short.  There is a stark message coming through that our most vulnerable have been forgotten: the elderly in care homes, the detained in mental health units and those with learning disabilities.

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