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Understanding CQC Registration: Legal Consequences and Steps to Take

Operating a regulated activity without CQC registration is a criminal offence under Section 10(1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. The penalties for this offence are severe and can include an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 12 months.

The different regulated activities and their definitions are outlined in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. These encompass a wide range of services, from personal care to surgical procedures, nursing care, and family planning services.

A recent case reported by the CQC in February 2022 serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of operating without proper registration. A company offering an online doctor’s service was prosecuted by the CQC for providing the regulated activity of ‘treatment of disease, disorder, or injury’ without registration. The court imposed a fine of £3,500 and ordered the company to pay the CQC’s prosecution costs of £10,000, along with a victim surcharge of £170. This case highlights that the costs associated with a prosecution can far exceed the fine itself, resulting in a substantial financial penalty for unregistered providers.

The repercussions of failing to determine the correct registration requirements can be devastating, both financially and for your reputation. Therefore, it’s crucial to ascertain your registration obligations before starting a new healthcare business.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗗𝗼 𝗜𝗳 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝗢𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗴𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻

If you find yourself carrying out a regulated activity without the required CQC registration, swift action is essential to minimise the risk of criminal enforcement action or prosecution. Submitting a registration application to the CQC as soon as you become aware of the need to register can serve as valuable mitigation and may dissuade the CQC from taking further action.

If you are unsure whether your activities necessitate CQC registration, seek specialist advice promptly. Establishing your registration requirements is your responsibility, as the CQC typically directs individuals to relevant legislation and registration guidance rather than providing personalised advice. Failure to make adequate inquiries into your registration obligations is not a valid defence and can increase the likelihood of enforcement action, especially if you delay rectifying a failure to register when necessary.

If registration is required, submit your application without delay. Keep in mind that continuing regulated activities without registration during the application process remains a criminal offence until CQC registration is granted. Seek legal advice to avoid exacerbating any criminal offence.

If regulated activities have been conducted without registration for an extended period, your responses to the CQC should be carefully crafted to protect your position. Take proactive steps to rectify the situation promptly. In the event of criminal enforcement action or prosecution by the CQC, consult specialist legal advice immediately to mitigate potential impacts on individuals and the business.

Operating within the bounds of CQC registration is not just a legal requirement; it’s essential for maintaining your business’s integrity and reputation.