We recently successfully acted for a GP practice who took legal action against the CQC for failing to carry out an independent review of all the evidence prior to publication of the ratings report as a result of which the CQC changed their review process prior to publication of the report.
What are the timeframes for challenging a CQC Inspection Report?
The Act which established the CQC (the Health and Social Care Act 2008) currently provides no right of appeal against an assessment or rating. However, Chapter 11 of the Provider Handbook, which the CQC publishes from time to time sets out a procedure for challenging the evidence and ratings awarded:-
Prior to publication – service providers have 10 working days from receipt of the draft report in which to review the draft report and submit its comments to the CQC. You can challenge the factual accuracy and completeness of the evidence and the findings on which the ratings are based (called the Factual Accuracy Log stage).
After publication – You can seek a review of the ratings. However the Handbook makes it clear that the only grounds for requesting such a review is that the CQC did not follow the process as set out in the handbook. Service providers cannot request reviews on the basis they they disagree with the judgments made by the CQC, as such disagreements would have been dealt with through the factual accuracy checks (prior to publication).
Requests for reviews (at post publication stage) are dealt with by CQC staff members who were not involved in the original inspection.
What should I look for when challenging a CQC Inspection Report?
The best way to challenge a report is to show that the report is incorrect, misleading or unfair and to provide evidence of the same. Remember that there is currently a strict time frame in place so concentrate on evidence which will show that the report is wrong.
What happens if the CQC review my challenges but refuse to change their mind?
As matters stood there was no right to request an independent review prior to publication of the ratings report. However, following a high profile case in which we successfully acted for a GP practice against the CQC process, the High Court has issued a declaration that the CQC must change its process and now there is an obligation on the CQC to carry out an independent review of a decision made in response to comments in the Factual Accuracy Comments Log (prior to publication of the report) at the request to do so by an inspected entity if the ground of complaint is that a fact finding maintained in the draft report is demonstrably wrong or misleading.
For more details of the case please see our news page.
To discuss how we can help you challenge your ratings report, including what funding options are available, please contact Katherine Millray on 01254 872272.