Responding to CQC draft reports

The draft report arrives in your in-box and you have ten working days to respond. How should you manage the factual accuracy process to get the most out of it?

First, you should nominate someone to lead on the process. It might be the registered manager or the nominated individual, depending on the nature of your service. I deal with many cases where independent care consultants do an excellent job in this respect. This person should diarise when the Factual Accuracy Comments (“FACs”) have to be submitted by. They should then undertake a line by line review of the draft report, highlighting any areas that are not agreed and identifying any information that was available at the time of the inspection but not considered by the inspector.

Secondly, the person allocated to lead on the process should pull together all the documentary evidence to support the case. I come across cases where there are “too many cooks” involved, leading to large numbers of disjointed emails coming in from multiple people, adding to the cost of the process, as well as its effectiveness.

Thirdly, the person leading on the case should come up with a first draft of the FACs, cross referenced to the evidence.

Fourthly, I recommend a lawyer undertake a full legal and evidential review of the case. When I am instructed, typically I review and revise the FACs, highlighting any gaps and making sure the evidence backs up statements made by the provider. The lawyer will normally draft a detailed covering letter raising legal and procedural issues. For example, if there is an alleged breach of regulation, I will ask if CQC held a Management Review Meeting (“MRM”) in setting the Requirement Notice. I come across cases where no MRM was held, undermining the reliability and credibility of CQC’s case.

Finally, I always say to providers that the most important thing is to put your case forward for the record. If you don’t, CQC’s version of events will stand as the truth and may come back to haunt the provider at a later date, by which time it will be far more difficult to rebut the criticisms as memories fade and evidence goes missing.

Take an active approach. It is your right to submit FACs. It is not a lost cause provided you have the facts and evidence on your side!

Should you require any advice on responding to CQC draft reports, be sure to contact Neil Grant on neil@gordonsols.co.uk or call him on 01483 451 900. Alternatively you can make an online enquiry here and we will give you a call.

(Article published in the February 2020 edition of Caring UK by Neil Grant, Partner, Gordons Partnership LLP)