The worst thing you can do is delay or not act fast, so it's good that you're looking for guidance and you've come to the right place. We've set out some important information here, but crucially, you should get advice right away. This is not an area where we'd ever advise a 'DIY' approach because your ability to stay in business may be at risk.
We'll talk you through your options and give you our recommendations so that you can calmly and successfully take the right steps to help preserve your ability to carry on with your business and protect your reputation. If you've already received the inspectors' draft report, this means your Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating status is in jeopardy, but there is time and there are still steps you can take to challenge the inspectors' intentions to 'downgrade' you - we can take care of that for you.
Once you have the draft inspection report, you'll be working to a CQC-controlled deadline to submit your response and this is a very tight 10 working days.
Presenting a robust defence that is capable of altering the inspectors' position means that there'll be a lot of activity for both of us in this brief period as we analyse the draft report, challenge its findings, look for persuasive evidence in support of that challenge and compile a considered response back to the CQC.
This is rarely a 'slam dunk' exercise and there may be several interactions with the inspectors before a conclusion is reached on whether enforcement action should be taken and/or your rating is affected. If the evidence isn't strong enough and the CQC are not persuaded, this doesn't mean it's all over.
The CQC has a variety of different options for requiring action by you and these will be clear from the type of enforcement notice that they send you. Some notices are gentler than others and won't ultimately affect your existing rating if handled well and we can take care of this for you.
Others are much more punishing and threaten imposing on you within a matter of days fines, prosecution and loss of licence, which we'll rigorously challenge on your behalf. And if you're sent one of the harsher notices, there is no doubt that it will affect your rating and, at the very least, the CQC will demand that you publish their new downgraded rating on your website and display it in your premises within 21 days of them announcing that they consider the rating to be final and amending your registration details on their own website.
If you find yourself here, we'll look at asking the court for an order to prevent any publication of the downgraded rating (known as getting an injunction) until the position is resolved and we've had chance to challenge the CQC's findings and actions.
You can find out more about all these possible actions and outcomes in our free recommended read called 'CQC Inspection Outcome' which gives a flowchart depiction of what could happen and when.
You should be prepared for us to need quite a bit of time from you and your staff because we take this very seriously and we know what you face if your defence isn't strong enough. That's why our experienced support and resources cover not just the legal and regulatory issues, but also the wider commercial and reputational impact, from the moment you get in touch. We know the 'ins and outs' of these processes. You'll be in safe, experienced hands.