Sarah Dobson - DAC Beachcroft
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Sarah Dobson

Sarah specialises in all aspects of health and social care law and provides a wide range of both technical and pragmatic advice, for businesses within the health and social care sector.

She has over 13 years’ experience advising clients across the independent and public sector, including international entrants to the UK health and social care market.

Sarah specialises in health and social care regulation, and she regularly advises clients on compliance with regulatory requirements imposed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Human Tissue Authority and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

In relation to CQC work, Sarah is often approached by clients facing restrictions on the operation of their health or social care services, or significant reputational damage from a poor inspection rating, who require business critical advice on how to manage these situations. Sarah is frequently successful in defending CQC enforcement action, and challenging CQC inspection outcomes and ratings.

Sarah advises new entrants to the health and social care market (including international investors) on the regulatory implications of establishing their businesses in the UK, and existing health and social care providers on the regulatory implications of acquiring new businesses, or expanding their services in relation to the latter. Sarah also leads teams of lawyers advising on large high profile vendor and buyer due diligence exercises for the independent and public health and social care sectors.

In terms of healthcare advisory work, Sarah has extensive experience in advising NHS Trusts, commissioners and independent providers on a wide variety of issues associated with the provision of health and social care, such as complaints investigations, serious untoward incident investigations, corporate and clinical governance matters, inquests, information requests, and advising on commissioning responsibilities and disputes.

Relevant experience includes advising:

  • An innovative new integrated care services and telehealth provider on challenging the outcome of their CQC inspection. The provider had significant concerns regarding a number of the conclusions reached in the draft inspection report and the conduct of one of the CQC inspectors. Sarah prepared a robust challenge via the Factual Accuracy process which resulted in the provider’s rating being changed from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’, thus preserving their reputation as a leading provider in their field.
  • An independent national private hospital provider on how to prepare for their CQC ‘Well-led’ head office inspection. Sarah prepared a comprehensive handbook for the Board and Executive Committee Team, linked to the CQC’s key lines of enquiry, to improve senior leaders’ knowledge and confidence in responding to CQC inspectors’ questions during an inspection.
  • A new provider of primary care and out-of-hours GP services on entering the health and social care market. Sarah advised the provider from the very outset on the legal implications of registering as a provider with CQC, and then managed the registration process for the provider. This included drafting application forms, policies, and other key documents required for registration. Sarah also provided training to the provider in preparation for the visit by CQC to assess their application, resulting in their successful registration as a provider of GP services.
  • A national provider of care homes on the threatened closure of one of their facilities. Following an inspection of one of the provider’s care homes, CQC served a Notice of Proposal to cancel the provider’s registration to operate the care home. Sarah prepared comprehensive representations (together with supporting evidence) which she submitted to the CQC on the provider’s behalf, which resulted in CQC revoking its proposal to close the home.

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