The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) has issued a consultation on a new liaison agreement between the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”), HSE and Local Authorities (“LAs”).

The agreement is intended to apply to the regulation of health and safety incidents in both healthcare and adult social care in England, and will replace the current CQC/HSE Liaison Agreement issued in 2012, which relates solely to healthcare.  The new agreement has been developed in response to criticism of the “regulatory gap” which can exist under current arrangements.

Areas of responsibility

Under the agreement, the key areas of responsibility will be as follows:

  • CQC – will lead investigations which relate to the safety and quality of treatment and care provided to patients and service users by CQC registered providers.  This would include, for example, investigations into a service user being scalded while bathing.

HSE and LAs – will lead investigations which relate to health and safety matters involving:

  • patients and service users receiving health or care services from non-CQC registered providers; and
  • workers, visitors and contractors.

The HSE will be responsible for healthcare premises, care homes with nursing and public social care providers.  LAs will be responsible for other residential care homes.

  • Specific circumstances – the agreement acknowledges that there may be times when more specific criteria need to be applied to ensure responsibility falls to the most appropriate regulator.  The agreement gives a number of examples of where this may apply.  For example, the HSE/LA is likely to be the more appropriate investigating authority where specific health and safety regulation is directly relevant to the cause of the harm, such as the Legionella Approved Code of Practice.

Liaison

Where it is unclear which regulator should have jurisdiction, or where specific circumstances apply, the regulators will determine who should take the lead and whether any joint action is required, keep a record of this decision with the potential to review if appropriate, and designate points of contact in each organisation to maintain dialogue.  The regulators should also keep relevant parties informed of this.

Information sharing

Under the agreement, the regulators will be expected to notify the other parties to the agreement if they receive information about incidents in their jurisdiction and to share relevant intelligence and enforcement data.  Annex C of the agreement sets out the working arrangements for this.

Consultation

The consultation asks if the proposed agreement makes it clear which body has responsibility to take action over health and safety incidents and in what circumstances, if the criteria cover the correct issues and whether it is clear how the bodies would share information on incidents.  The consultation period ends on 31 December 2014, and the consultation documents can be found here.