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Key duties of regulated bodies

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Duty of service providers delivering ‘regulated activities’ to safeguard service users

The secretary of state must impose regulations to make sure regulated services cause no avoidable harm to their users.

Reference: Section 20 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 as amended by the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015

Organisations, including charities, that deliver regulated activities in health or social care settings must comply with regulations issued by the secretary of state.

Failure to comply with some of these regulations is an offence and can result in fines.

Reference: Regulations 8 and 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014

Service users must be protected from abuse and improper treatment.

Service providers must have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, unlawful discrimination and restraint.

This includes:

  • neglect
  • subjecting people to degrading treatment
  • unnecessary or disproportionate restraint
  • significantly disregarding a service user’s need for care or treatment
  • deprivation of liberty.

Service providers must have robust procedures and processes in place to prevent their users from being abused by staff or other people they may have contact with when using the service, including visitors.

Abuse and improper treatment includes care or treatment that:

  • is degrading for the user
  • significantly disregards the user’s needs
  • involves inappropriate recourse to restrain the user.

Where any form of abuse occurs or is suspected, discovered or reported by a third party, the provider must take appropriate action without delay. This includes investigation and/or referral to the appropriate body. This applies whether or not the party reporting the abuse works for the provider.

Reference: Regulation 13, The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014

Service users must:

  • receive appropriate care and treatment that meets their needs and reflects their preferences
  • be treated with dignity and respect
  • give consent before any care or treatment is provided
  • not receive unsafe care and treatment and as a result suffer avoidable harm or risk of harm.

Reference: The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014

The key statutory guidance for this duty is revised regularly by the CQC.

Reference: Regulations for service providers and managers

Duty of the CQC to safeguard service users

In performing its functions, the CQC must have regard to protecting and promoting the rights of people who use health and social care services.

This includes:

  • children
  • people detained due to poor mental health
  • people deprived of their liberty due to lack of capacity
  • other adults at risk.

They must ensure regulatory action is proportionate to the risks it safeguards and is only targeted where it’s needed.

Reference: Section 4 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008

Duty of the Professional Standards Authority to oversee regulators of health and social care

There are several bodies that regulate professions delivering health and social care services. These include the General Medical Council (for doctors), the Health and Care Professions Council (for various therapeutic professions) and Social Work England (for social workers in England). Each has their own statutory basis.

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees these regulators. They have a duty to promote the interests of anyone using health care, social care or social work services in England. In doing so, they have a duty to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public.

Reference: Section 25 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, as amended by Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015 and the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 15 June 2022

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