How can practices satisfy the Care Quality Commission when buying or selling a practice?
The role of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in ensuring high-quality health and social care is, of course, an essential role; but managing to satisfy the regulator, particularly when buying or selling a practice, can be challenging.
The CQC measures dental practices on five key areas; whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. These key areas are broken down into a set of questions which are referred to as key lines of enquiry (KLOE). These are used during inspections and also when practice owners apply to the CQC to provide regulated services.
Each time a practice changes hands, both buyer and seller have to satisfy the CQC in a number of ways, and the complexity of the application process, which can take up to 14 weeks, can cause delays to the process if not approached methodically and in a timely manner.
Channel your inner scout – be prepared!
Satisfying the CQC can be much easier if you ensure you are prepared for all the questions that will be asked, whether you are a buyer or a seller.
The buyer normally has more to do than the seller, particularly if it’s the first time they have bought a practice. The ‘new provider’ application form is long and detailed, and requires a lot of information, including the last 15 years of job history, explanations of any gaps in employment and most importantly, Section 5 which is entitled “How”. This section requires details of how the new owner will provide the regulated activities and satisfy the KLOE, which confirm whether the service is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.
The new provider applicant will also be required to attend an interview, at which point their suitability to be registered for the provision of regulated activities is assessed, including being able to prove you are a fit and appropriate person to perform duties to a high standard.
It’s all in the timing (and detail)
It’s important to start the CQC process as soon as a sale is agreed, by applying for a countersigned DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check. Both the buyer and the seller must apply for their own DBS check and it must be countersigned by the CQC in order to be valid. The application can be completed online and the process can take between three and 10 weeks. It is then valid for 12 months.
Whilst waiting for your DBS check to be confirmed, the new provider application form on the CQC portal should be completed. Often, a new buyer will need to apply to go into partnership with the vendor for a period of time during the handover, and in that case, both sides must apply for a partnership, whilst the vendor simultaneously cancels their existing provider registration.
It’s important to check the application form meticulously, as the CQC is very strict on what is acceptable and can reject an application for the most minor of errors, including grammatical mistakes. It’s also important for CQC compliance that – if the practice holds an NHS contract – the registration mirrors what is on the NHS contract.
A helping hand
As part of our service as a broker, MediEstates provides a complimentary CQC Consultancy Service that is available to guide buyers and sellers through the CQC application process. It involves explaining the requirements of the CQC and taking on much of the time-consuming work that is involved.
We guide customers through the process and prompt them regarding what action that is required at each stage; we provide templates and examples to follow for different sections of the application form; and we perform a final check before submission. We also help our clients prepare for the interview by providing a list of questions that should be considered and hints as to how responses might be formulated.
Being able to satisfy the CQC is a crucial aspect of buying or selling a dental practice and ensures that when the sale eventually does complete, the new practice owner can open on time and begin their new venture with everything in place.