The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. Its purpose is to make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care. It does this by monitoring, inspecting and regulating services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety. It also publishes its findings, including performance ratings, to help people make informed choices about care services.
The “fit and proper persons” requirement for directors and the duty of candour – came into force on 27 November 2014. The introduction of a statutory duty of candour is an important step towards ensuring the open, honest and transparent culture that was lacking at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The failures at Winterbourne View Hospital revealed that there were no levers in the system to hold the boards of organisations to account.
The “fit and proper persons” requirement plays a major part in ensuring the accountability of directors of NHS bodies. It is CQC’s intention to use these new powers to encourage a culture of openness and to enable providers and directors to be held to account.
NHS Improvement has a duty to ensure that the chairs and non-executives it appoints meet the requirements of the ‘fit and proper persons’ regulations. They must:
- be of good character;
- have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience;
- exhibit appropriate personal behaviour and business practices;
- have the relevant experience and ability (including an appropriate level of physical and mental health, taking account of any reasonable adjustments);
- supply certain information (including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and a full employment history); and
- have not been involved in, known of or facilitated any serious misconduct or mismanagement in carrying on a regulated activity.
A number of checks may be undertaken to ensure that these requirements are met. They include:
- Disclosure and Barring Scheme (DBS) checks
- Occupational Health Assessment
- Photographic proof of ID
- Proof of qualifications, where appropriate
- Search of insolvency and bankruptcy register
- Search of disqualified directors register
- Check with relevant regulators, where appropriate
While every effort will be made to minimise the impact these new arrangements will have on timescales for recruitment exercises, inevitably some of checks may take some time. In the future, therefore, it is likely that some offers of appointment will be conditional on the satisfactory completion of the necessary checks.
Further guidance is available from the CQC by visiting their website: