Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

I celebrated my birthday at the weekend. As The Guardian’s birthday page has been telling people for a few years, there’s no point pretending — so before you ask, I was 51.

March is a busy month for birthdays in my family — my Mum, my aunt, me, my brother (born on my third birthday) and my sister all in the space of 11 days. Nearly as expensive as Christmas!

March is also a very busy month at CQC as we prepare for the implementation of a host of changes in April. I was speaking last week at the Care Showcase in Brighton and took the opportunity to share what’s happening and why. As it was standing room only for my session I got the hint that people were pretty interested, so I thought I’d give you all a quick rundown too.

Fundamental standards

First and foremost the fundamental standards come into force on 1 April 2015 with a new set of regulations. We have produced guidance to help providers know how to meet these standards, which the public can also use to see what they should be expecting from care services.

We have introduced new registration application and variation forms for providers to take account of the changes to regulations from 1 April. And we will also be implementing our new enforcement policy which incorporates the new powers we will have.

Duty of candour

There are two very important new standards — the duty of candour and the fit and proper person requirement.

The duty of candour was introduced to promote openness and transparency in services and support the development of a safety culture. Providers will be expected to inform people when things go wrong and to provide support, truthful information and an apology. CQC will check that these arrangements are in place and implemented at registration and on inspection.

Fit and proper person

The fit and proper person requirement has been established to ensure that directors or their equivalents are held accountable for the delivery of care and are fit and proper to carry out their role. It is important that providers ensure that their recruitment of directors tests whether candidates meet this requirement. CQC will check at registration and will respond to concerns if they are raised.

Special measures

After much discussion and consultation, special measures will be introduced for adult social care services on 1 April. Special measures will ensure that failing services improve or close and all services rated as inadequate will be placed in special measures. Services will be given a time limited period to improve.

Scores on the doors

Also from 1 April, providers will be expected to display their ratings in the service and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. We have already issued guidance on how to display their ratings and inspectors will be checking this out on inspections.

Care Certificate

Bizarrely, I managed to forget to include information about the Care Certificate in my presentation, which is also introduced on 1 April, but fortunately a question from the audience spared my blushes. The Care Certificate has been developed following the Cavendish Review to address inconsistences in training and competencies in the workforce so that people and families experiencing care services can have confidence that all staff have the same introductory skills, knowledge and behaviours to provide safe, high-quality and compassionate care of the highest standards. CQC has welcomed the introduction of the Care Certificate and published a short statement to explain how we will take it into account in our inspections.

Market oversight

I did manage to remember to talk about CQC’s new responsibility for market oversight from 6 April. The purpose of market oversight is to protect people in vulnerable circumstances by spotting if a provider may fail and making sure the right action is taken. CQC will not be ‘bailing out’ failing providers nor taking action that might pre-empt failure — our sole interest is in ensuring continuity of care for people using services that may be difficult to replace. The draft guidance will be discussed and signed off by the CQC Board on Wednesday. There’s more information in my colleague Sally Warren’s blog.


I am sure you can imagine the hive of activity at CQC as we finalise guidance documents, train staff and ensure our systems and processes can cope. I was pretty glad to have the opportunity on my birthday weekend to go hiking on the windswept North Yorkshire Moors to blow away the cobwebs and then enjoy a lovely celebration evening with friends at Muddy Boots in Crouch End and birthday cakes from Coffee Cake and Battenburgbelle. Certainly put a spring in my step — which I think I’m going to need!

Originally published at

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