The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has drafted guidance on how the 46,000 health and adult social care providers and services that it regulates across England can meet the government's new regulations on care and what actions it will take when they fail.
The new regulations (called "fundamental standards") are more focused and clear about the care that people should always expect to receive. They were laid before Parliament earlier this month and will come into effect by next April.
They include both the new "duty of candour" and the "fit and proper persons" requirements. These will oblige providers to be open and honest when things go wrong and to hold directors to account when care fails people. These two requirements will apply to NHS trusts from October.
CQC has issued its draft guidance on how providers can meet the eleven fundamental standards as part of a public consultation.
Alongside this, CQC is asking for views on how it will use its strengthened enforcement powers, as set out in the Care Act 2014.
These will allow CQC to decide on the most appropriate enforcement action to take when care falls below the required standard rather than starting at the bottom of the scale. This includes CQC being able to prosecute providers without having to issue a warning notice first.
Once finalised, the guidance will help providers to understand how they can meet the new regulations and when they do not, what actions CQC will take.
David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission said: "We are consulting on our proposed guidance on how providers can meet the requirements of the new regulations and on how we intend to use our enforcement powers.
"It is essential that CQC uses these new responsibilities well to encourage a culture of openness and to hold providers and directors to account when care fails people.
"We have already started to inspect services against the five key questions that matter most to the people who use them – are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs, and well-led. This helps our inspection teams to identify good care.
"Where our inspection teams identify poor care, this guidance will help us to determine whether there is a breach of regulations and if so, what action to take. In some cases, this will mean we will use our powers to prosecute.
"For providers, this will help them to make applications to register or vary their registration with CQC, and to make sure their services do not fall below acceptable levels."
CQC will run its consultation for 12 weeks, ending on Friday 17 October 2014.
Alongside this, CQC is running a separate consultation for six weeks (ending on Friday 5 September), specifically on how NHS trusts can meet the "duty of candour" and "fit and proper person" requirements. This is because these two requirements will come into force for the NHS from October, whereas for other care sectors, they will come into effect from next April subject to Parliamentary approval and along with the rest of the new regulations.