'Serious gap in the law' exposed after unregistered Portsmouth care provider fined £34,000

SOCIAL care officials are being asked to look at a ‘serious gap in the law’ exposed during the prosecution of an unregistered provider in the city.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 7:00 am

Golden Years offered personal care to six people between 2017 and 2019 without being registered with the Care Quality Commission.

The company was fined £34,833 by a judge at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court together with £9,000 costs and £170 victim surcharge.

Directors attempted to register with the CQC but did not meet the requirements. It did continue to provide ‘adequate’ care but the watchdog had no power to shut it down pending registration.

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Portsmouth Magistrates' Court Picture: Chris Moorhouse

In his judgment, after being told this, district judge Gary Lucie said: ‘I was surprised to learn that the CQC only has power to issue such notices and/or prosecute such cases if the business is registered.

‘If the business is not registered, then the only action the CQC can take is to prosecute under s10 of the Act.

‘If that is indeed the case, then it appears to me that it exposes a very serious gap in the law designed to protect vulnerable people from the risk of harm.'

The CQC told The News if it had identified any safeguarding concerns then adult social care would have been informed at Portsmouth City Council.

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Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt will now raise the issue with the Department of Health and Social Care.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘I hope the CQC follows this up and I am raising this issue with the DHSC.

‘This does appear to be a problem, and I would also be interested to know what view local council and health providers take in such cases.

‘It must be wrong to have someone providing care which may not be meeting the standards we expect.’

Golden Years was found out when Portsmouth City Council informed CQC that it was operating unregistered in September 2017. The CQC visited in May 2018.

CQC registration inspector Zoe Hall, found a ‘lack of training for staff, unsafe medicines practices and lack of governance systems, processes and understanding of the regulations and requirements of a registered manager,’ the judge said.

Hampshire County Council made a similar report in August 2018.

Applications to register were rejected by the CQC between November 2018 and June 2019 due to incompleteness.

One of the directors of Golden Years, Kim Harrison previously told The News the three carers, who worked for the company, and the 10 clients they were looking after were ‘fully aware it wasn’t registered but was going through the process of (registering)’.

A CQC statement previously said the firm ‘had been providing personal care to people living in their own homes in the community since March 2, 2015’. It was only prosecuted for 2017-2019.

The firm admitted breaching section 10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

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