The Care Act 2014: Independent Providers - May 2014
Published 30 May 2014
The Care Act 2014 came onto the statute books on 14 May 2014. It contains a number of provisions which will have a very significant impact on independent sector providers of both health and social care.
For independent providers of health services, key provisions in the Act include:
- Establishing the legal basis for the CQC to introduce a statutory duty of candour, which will come into force via CQC regulations on 1 October 2014;
- Creating a new criminal offence of giving false or misleading information on performance/quality, which will apply to the NHS and independent sector organisations providing care under arrangements with the NHS;
- Changes to the CQC regulatory regime, including new powers to exercise immediate sanctions, new inspection regimes, and a duty to consider referring poor care concerns to Monitor to take additional intervention action;
- Establishment of the Health Research Authority as a statutory body and adjustments to the duties of the Health and Social Care Information Centre in relation to dissemination of information.
It is also important for providers to be aware that the Act introduces a new framework of duties on local authorities for the provision of social care, including a requirement to promote integration between health and social care services. This therefore may present opportunities for independent sector providers to increase involvement in integration projects moving forward.
The Act reflects the new focus on standards of care, transparency and effective regulation of care in light of the Francis Report, the Winterbourne View scandal and other events of concern. There is a strong impetus to ensure that the same minimum standards of care and transparency apply regardless of the nature of the provider delivering services: so all providers of health and social care services, in the public, private and third sectors, face the same need to effect a significant change in culture and policy.
There is a need for "Board to ward" understanding of the duty of candour and the new regulatory regime. This needs to balance understanding of the specific legal duties with clear leadership towards the more general cultural change required for organisations to secure the confidence of the regulators and the public.