Care Quality Commission
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Judge finds rating review process fair, factual accuracy improved

SPP Health Ltd is a GP provider in the North-West with approximately 40 locations.

They requested a rating review of the location Seaforth Village Surgery. As the request did not meet the grounds for review as set out in the Provider Handbook, CQC’s Rating Review Manager declined to consider the request. SSP was granted permission to seek a judicial review of this decision.

At the judicial review hearing before the High Court on 28 July 2016, SSP was permitted to advance a substantially different case, raising a challenge to a number of CQC’s pre- and post-publication processes.

In a judgment handed down on 12 August 2016, Mrs Justice Andrews does not find that CQC’s rating review process is unfair, nor that it was applied unfairly in this case.

In effect, this judgment helpfully defines and approves CQC’s processes for pre- and post-inspection challenge to reports. The Judge confirms CQC’s rating review process is fair. However, the Judge’s remarks suggest one further amendment to our current practice:

  • To avoid the risk of this approach being taken in the future, the Judge asks that CQC develop a further mechanism to ensure the factual accuracy process has been properly followed, which involves someone independent of the inspection, before a report is published. All factual accuracy responses will be reviewed by another member of the Commission’s staff from the relevant Inspection Directorate. This staff member will be independent of the original inspection visit.

Work was already underway to improve the factual accuracy form and guidance for all sectors which was facilitated by the business improvement team and agreed by sector continuous improvement groups. The requirements of this judgment have been reflected in the outcome of this work.

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