Successfully challenging a CQC inspection report or rating

While a daunting prospect, CQC ratings can be successfully challenged by providers if they do so in a reasonable, proportionate, and evidence-based way, as Laura Hannah, partner in the regulatory department at law firm Stephensons, explains

Challenging a CQC inspection report or rating is important but it is often a step avoided by health and social care providers. Many providers tell us that they are worried about challenging the CQC as they want to maintain a good relationship with their inspector and fear that a challenge will ‘rock the boat’, while other providers do not think a challenge will make a difference. We can tell you from experience that this is not the correct approach.

While it is always good to maintain a positive relationship with your inspector, providers should not be anxious about challenging their inspection reports or ratings where they have solid grounds to do so and can back up any challenge with robust documentary evidence. Inspectors expect to be challenged and it is vital for ensuring quality monitoring of their practices and processes and to ensure that they are held to account where they do not accurately and fairly follow these – this is why these routes to challenge inspection reports and ratings exist. However, in order to be successful in any challenge, providers need to ensure that their challenges are reasonable and proportionate and are set out clearly to avoid any misunderstandings. Challenges cannot be rushed or lack an evidential basis. 

This year, we have assisted numerous health and social care providers in challenging the factual accuracy of their draft inspection reports and the ratings in their published inspection reports. In some cases, these challenges have led to significant changes in a report, including the removal of alleged breaches of regulations, as well as entire rating changes. 

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