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Social Services

Question for Department of Health

UIN 212940, tabled on 3 November 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if his Department will take steps to ensure that (a) care agencies, (b) managers and (c) individuals who have been found to be involved in the provision of sub-standard care provision are prevented from working in that industry in any local authority area.

Answered on

10 November 2014

All care agencies must register with and be inspected and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as regulator of health and adult social care services. The CQC regulates care providers against a set of registration requirements in relation to safety and quality of services. Should the CQC find a care provider is not complying with regulatory requirements, it has a range of enforcement powers which it can employ, up to and including cancelling its registration to operate.

The Department worked closely with the Home Office to set up the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The role of the DBS is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups of people. The DBS provides a system of criminal records checking and barring functions, to prevent unsuitable people from being able to work with vulnerable groups in regulated work in care and health settings.

This year, the DBS has been running a programme of free events targeted at those who have a responsibility for removing individuals from posts in regulated activity where harm has occurred. The events emphasise the responsibilities of employers to make referrals for barring and explain the DBS barring and decision making processes.

The Department has reinforced this message in the safeguarding guidance issued recently under the Care Act. The guidance is very clear that safe employment practices, including the duties to refer people who have caused harm, to the DBS, are a key part of effective safeguarding policies and practice in the care sector.

In order to make sure that people are held to account for the quality of care they provide, we are introducing measures to ensure that company directors who consent or turn a blind eye to poor care will be liable for prosecution. In the future, they and provider organisations could face unlimited fines if found guilty.

To ensure that social care providers and services employ and are run by people with the right values and skills, we are introducing a ‘fit and proper person’ test for Directors. Where the CQC considers a Director not to be fit to run a provider organisation, it will be able to insist on his or her removal.