From 1st April 2015 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has introduced the new Duty of Care Regulations. Any organisation providing social care or health services must comply with the new rules, or face potential prosecution.
What Are The New Regulations?
Duty of candour regulation requires care providers to be transparent and open with patients who use their services and anyone who acts on the patients’ behalf.
From 1st April 2015, anyone who works or volunteers for a care provider regulated by the CQC must follow a clear and documented procedure in the event of a ‘notifiable incident’ to comply with the duty of candour regulation.
What Constitutes a Notifiable Incident?
A notifiable incident is any unexpected incident that causes unintended mental or physical harm to patients while they are being treated or cared.
For additional clarity, the CQC has provided more detail to further clarify what constitutes a notifiable incident, following unintended consequences of care:
- Death – immediate death or death resulting from the notifiable incident
- Severe harm – a permanent lessening of bodily, sensory, motor, physiologic or intellectual functions, including removal of the wrong limb, or organ or brain damage
- Moderate harm – significant but not permanent harm that requires a moderate increase in treatment such as an unplanned return to surgery
- Prolonged psychological harm – psychological harm that a patient has experienced, or is likely to experience, for a continuous period of at least 28 days
How Does This Impact Charities?
As many social enterprise organisations and charities regularly liaise and work with health and social care providers as part of their support to communities and individuals. It is highly likely that not-for-profits need to be aware of how they may be affected by this new regulation.
Should a charity fail to observe this, or other new regulations, Trustees could be held personally liable for breach of duty of care. While every effort should be made to build and document an effective regulatory framework to reduce risk, it is also advisable to ensure that your Charity Insurance programme includes Trustees Indemnity cover to protect against any acquisitions, or challenges to decisions made by the organisation.
What Are the Risks For Non-Compliance?
The risk of non-compliance with the new Duty of Candour regulations could be significant. Should a breach occur, possible penalties include prosecution and large scale fines not to mention the associated reputational impact – all of which could leave an organisation in an unrecoverable position.
How Can I Minimise Risk?
The good news is that much of the risk can simply be minimised by implementing a clear and effective training and awareness campaign.
Any Charity employees or volunteers that could potentially come into contact with social of health care patients should undergo documented training to ensure your organisation complies with the duty of candour regulations.
The simplest way to reduce exposure is to build the regulations into your Risk Management & Training Programmes – that way, risk assessments and training will examine risk and increase compliance on an on-going basis.
TOP TIP – Don’t forget volunteers! It is all too easy in your efforts to help and support those in need to overlook new volunteers – make sure that any new recruit undergoes a written training programme BEFORE they are allowed to undertake any support activities.
As outlined above, the law dictates that officers and Trustees of the Charity must ensure that regulations are being followed. Trustees Indemnity Insurance provides insurance protection against civil and legal liability actions made against the trustees, providing genuine peace of mind.
Where Can I Find More Information?
More information on the new regulations can be found on the Care Quality Commission website: www.cqc.org.uk/content/regulation-20-duty-candour.
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