Monday, 20 August 2018

Poor Record Keeping and Non-Existent Risk Assessments Contributed to CQC Cancelling Care Service Registration

Satellite Consortium Limited (SCL), a domiciliary care service, in the London borough of Haringey, has had its registration cancelled by the Care Quality Commission - effectively closing it down.

SCL was a domiciliary care service registered to provide personal care to people in their own homes. The service provided care and support for older people, people with physical and learning disabilities and sensory impairment and people living with dementia. At the time of inspection, the service was providing personal care to 68 people.

The CQC moved to cancel the provider’s registration following an inspection in October 2017 – but it has taken until now to complete the legal processes involved.

Key Issues

  • Satellite Consortium Limited did not have a registered manager in post, which impacted on the leadership and governance at the service. 
  • The provider lacked robust and effective systems to assess, monitor and evaluate the safety and quality of the service and did not carry out regular internal audits to identify areas of concern and improvements.
  • People using the service did not get the care they needed as sometimes staff failed to turn up and when care was delivered it was frequently late. 
  • The quality of care was also not good enough, people were put at risk by poor care practice which failed to meet their needs.
  • The CQC reviewed 13 people's care plans and found that none of the care plans had risk assessments instructing staff on the risks involved in supporting them and how to safely manage those risks. For example, one person had high mobility needs, was at risk of pressure ulcers as they spent the majority of their time in bed and used a hoist and bed rails for safety. This person had not been identified as being at high risk of pressure ulcers and there were no risk assessments in place to ensure their mobility and care needs were safely met or to instruct staff how to minimise risks involved in supporting the person. This placed the person at high levels of risk of avoidable harm.
  • People deemed to lack capacity, did not have their capacity assessed. Staff were not trained in the Mental Capacity Act and were not provided with information on how to encourage people to make decisions.
  • SCL did not follow safe and appropriate staff recruitment practices and did not effectively monitor staff punctuality and timekeeping with missed and late visits not being recorded. 
  • The provider did not notify CQC of two safeguarding cases. Not all staff received safeguarding training and staff lacked understanding of how to identify and report abuse. Safeguarding records did not give details on the investigation outcomes.
Debbie Ivanova, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said "Every client of Satellite Consortium Limited was entitled to receive a good standard of care. Unfortunately that was not the case and on this occasion we have had to use our enforcement powers to cancel the provider’s registration.”

CMA Raises Concerns Over Effects of University Laundry Merger on Student Finances

The Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally found that JLA’s purchase of Washstation is likely to lead to higher prices or lower quality in student laundry services.

The 2 firms provide a range of managed laundry services to higher education customers such as universities, colleges and providers of student accommodation. These services include supplying and maintaining washing machines and tumble dryers, refurbishing laundry rooms and providing cashless payment services and apps to monitor machines remotely.

When JLA New Equity Co Limited (JLA) acquired Washstation Limited (Washstation) in May 2017, the transaction represented a merger between the 2 leading providers of managed laundry services to the higher education sector.

After receiving a complaint about the completed merger, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an initial Phase 1 investigation into the takeover in February 2018. It found significant competition concerns, namely that JLA’s purchase of its nearest competitor would give the merged company a market share of more than 90%.

As a result, the case was referred to a group of independent panel members at the CMA for an in-depth, Phase 2, investigation.

After considering a wide range of evidence, the CMA has issued provisional findings. It is concerned that the merger is likely to result in customers paying more for laundry services or receiving a lower quality service, which might ultimately impact students.

The CMA found that, following the merger, JLA now faces only limited competition. Other providers of managed laundry services in the higher education sector are not currently in a position to compete strongly with JLA / Washstation, and it is unlikely that any future expansion by these firms would be sufficient or quick enough to offset the loss of competition caused by the merger.

The investigation has also shown that companies providing laundry services in other sectors – for customers such as hospitals, care homes or leisure centres - would find it difficult to enter the higher education market and create enough competition to act as rivals for the merged company.

The CMA is now inviting comments on its provisional findings until 31 August. It will also seek comments up until 21 August on its remedies notice, which outlines measures the CMA could take if it finally decides that there has been a substantial lessening of competition.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

GP Practice Suspended by CQC

A Haringey GP practice was suspended for six months by the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in May 2018 which highlighted significant concerns about patient care.

The practice was rated Inadequate in all areas.

Patients are still able to receive care at The Staunton Group Practice in Wood Green, north London because it is currently being run by another provider. This will continue until October 2018, when it will be decided if the suspension can be lifted and the original provider can return.

At the inspection, the original provider was found not to have effective systems in place for the management of:
  • risks to patients and staff with regards to safeguarding practices.
  • high-risk prescribing - medicines reviews for patients on high-risk medicines were not being carried out.
  • blank prescription forms and pads.
  • Infection prevention and control practices.
  • Emergency drugs and equipment - which were stored in unlocked rooms, accessible to patients and visitors.
In addition records of over 600 patients who were previously registered at other practices had not been consolidated with their records at the practice, meaning their medical histories were incomplete.

The practice had not planned its services to meet the needs of the practice population. Patients continued to find telephone access difficult. Routine appointments were not available for three-to-four weeks.

In order to be able to have the suspension lifted the provider must now:
  • Ensure care and treatment is provided in a safe way to patients.
  • Establish effective systems and processes to ensure good governance in accordance with the fundamental standards of care. 
Professor Ursula Gallagher, CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of GP Practices, said “It is a matter of extreme concern when a practice falls below a certain standard of care - and the care we found The Staunton Group Practice was so concerning that we had no choice but to prevent them working.

“Presently patients are being cared for by a new leadership regime and we will need to see vast improvements at the practice before we will consider lifting the suspension.”

Friday, 10 August 2018

New Online Hub For Aspiring Writers Goes Live

The Sunday Times Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with the University of Warwick, has established an online hub for emerging and aspiring writers, featuring contributions from high-profile authors and literary experts.

The hub, found at, offers:
  • Monthly ‘How To’ guides. These accessible, essay-format pieces promise writers a DIY online writing course. The series will be written by a different writer each year; starting in 2018 with AL Kennedy, Associate Professor at the University of Warwick.
  • Monthly ‘What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Writing’ articles. Well-known writers will reminisce on their early careers. The series starts with Paul Beatty, Anne Enright, Ian Rankin and Nick Hornby. Paul Beatty’s piece will launch the new programme on Wednesday 8 August.
  • Regular ‘Top Tips’ posts by experts, including staff at Peters Fraser + Dunlop, staff and students at the University of Warwick and journalists from The Sunday Times, as well as guest posts from experts from the literary world, such as the British Council, publishers and writers.
Talking about the launch, Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, said ‘Bringing together well-known writers, experts in the field, and a network of partners, together with an exceptional list of alumni – from Max Porter to Sarah Howe, from Zadie Smith to Robert Macfarlane, from Sarah Waters to Naomi Alderman – the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with Warwick University, is a unique support and champion for emerging and aspiring writers, providing those starting out with an increasing range of expertise, encouragement, and support.’

More About the Young Writer of the Year Award...

Sponsored by the literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, the Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with the University of Warwick, rewards the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35. Last year Sally Rooney won the prize for her debut novel Conversations with Friends.

The British Council is the international partner of the prize, opening doors for shortlisted authors abroad and providing opportunities for cross-border collaborations and exposure beyond the UK and Ireland. The University of Warwick is offering a bespoke 10-week residency to the winner.

The 2018 shortlist will be announced on 4 November, and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at the London Library on 6 December.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Strong Leadership, Detailed Care Plans and Great Communication Results in Outstanding CQC Rating

The Care Quality Commission has found the care being provided at Oakwell, a care home for people with mental health needs, to be Outstanding following an inspection in April this year.

Oakwell provides accommodation, personal and nursing care for up to 13 people with mental health needs in Bensham, Gateshead. At the time of the inspection, there were eight people using the service.

Some of the findings from the inspection included:
  • Time was taken to build relationships with clients, staff and other agencies involved in the care of clients.
  • The provider inspired life-long learning, supporting staff to obtain higher education qualifications, as well as running apprenticeship schemes and enabling training to become a registered nurse.
  • The culture of the service promotes continuous learning for all staff, reviewing what went well and what didn't and spreading the learning.
  • The service recognised the risks of social isolation, and staff worked to ensure people kept their personal relationships, and remained active in their social groups.
  • People were supported to enter into employment and engage locally with healthcare professionals and services.
  • The management team promoted an open and honest culture throughout the service at all levels.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care said:  “It is fantastic to find a service that fully supports both the people receiving care and the staff delivering it. The registered manager had formed very close working relationships with local healthcare professionals. Everyone we spoke to describe the service as being of significant benefit to people’s lives.

“We found a real focus on helping people recover and safely live their lives in the most independent way possible. Staff were very knowledgeable and took the time to get to know people. The care records, and people’s feedback, reflected the length the service went to in ensuring they developed and delivered the best possible care.

“The management team were clearly supportive and enabled staff to be innovative in managing people’s care needs and developing best practice. They led the way and weren’t afraid to constructively critique their performance.”

Monday, 30 July 2018

2018 National Student Survey Results Are In!

The Office for Students has announced the findings of the 2018 National Student Survey.

The survey captures the views of over 320,000 students and shows that while student satisfaction levels are high, universities and colleges must do more to ensure a positive experience for all students.

Overall satisfaction is 83 per cent in comparison with 84 per cent last year. Eight per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their higher education experience and the remaining eight per cent were dissatisfied. 

Overall, students were most satisfied with the quality of teaching on their courses.  Areas for improvement were flagged around organisation and communication with only 69% feeling their course was well organised and smooth running, and 62% clear on how student feedback on their course was acted upon.

Whilst you can already access the raw data from the survey on the Office for Student's website, the summary and comparable data will not be made available until the end of August 2018, when it will be published on the Unistats website.

Unistats is the official site to search for and compare data and information on undergraduate level courses from across the UK. The site draws together comparable information on those areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said: ‘While we have seen overall satisfaction fall by one percent, many questions have maintained their satisfaction levels including the student voice, academic support, learning resources and assessment and feedback questions.

‘We run the NSS to help ensure that students’ voices are heard and understood – so that universities and colleges can work to give all students a positive experience of higher education. The NSS is a highly credible and long-established survey which continually achieves a very high response rate. The results are an invaluable tool for universities and colleges to improve students’ experience of higher education.

‘While I am pleased to see the overall satisfaction rate remains high, the data shows that there is more work to be done to ensure all students have a high quality and fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

‘We will ensure the survey remains a valid and useful resource and review the changes providers are making in response to the survey’s findings.’

Friday, 27 July 2018

More NHS Dentists to be Funded to Carryout Prevention-Focused Care

More NHS dental practices will be joining a scheme for prevention-focused dental care following successful results where it has been tested.

Up to 50 practices in England will be selected to join the 73 currently testing a new approach to dental care.

The new system incentivises dentists to offer full oral health assessments and self-care plans on top of traditional treatments.

In the first year of piloting the new approach, dentists reported that:
  • 90% of patients had reduced or maintained levels of tooth decay
  • 80% of patients had reduced or maintained levels of gum disease
  • 97% of patients said they were satisfied with the dental care they received
The recently published evaluation report from the first year of testing recommended that a further group of dental practices should be recruited into the programme.

The new practices are currently being selected and will join from October 2018 and January 2019.

The existing 73 practices are continuing to test the new approach, with a new remuneration system added which supports dentists carrying out preventative work.

The scheme could be rolled out nationally from April 2020 if it can be shown to benefit patients, the NHS and dental practice following a thorough evaluation.

Health Minister Steve Brine said:  "The government has made great progress in improving the oral health of patients and tooth decay among children continues to decrease ‒ but there is more we can do.

Our new proposed NHS dental contract focuses on prevention and quality of care and will be thoroughly tested to ensure it is financially sustainable for the NHS, patients and dentists."