The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have published information about the mandatory data to be provided via the Capacity Tracker from 31 July 2022. The purpose of the Capacity Tracker is to track capacity, vaccination and staffing within care homes. The Capacity Tracker itself is not new, however there are new regulations which require providers of adult social care to provide data on a mandatory basis. The first set of monthly data is due by 14 August 2022.
The pandemic gave rise to new challenges for care providers, in an already demanding sector. One of these was the collection of data to manage outbreaks of Covid-19 and identify risks. The guidance provided by the DHSC explained that they require data which is transparent and accessible to support commissioning, quality assurance and risk management.
The Government's health and social care data strategy sets out the vision to transform adult social care data, with the intention of providing service users with the ability to access to information to make informed care choices. Further, the People at the Heart of Care white paper sets out how access to reliable data is key to social care reform.
What data is required?
Details of the data required can be found on the Government's website. In brief, the data required for care home provider locations is:
- Care home bed vacancies;
- Workforce resourcing;
- COVID-19 and flu vaccination; and
Domiciliary care settings are required to provide data on:
- People using the service;
- Staffing; and
- COVID-19 and flu vaccination.
- Providers will be required to update their data by the end of the 14th day of each month, or the next working day.
- Data must be correct to within a week of submitting (i.e. data must be correct to no further back than the 8th of the month).
- Updates will need to be made via the Capacity Tracker, either by providers updating fields individually, or by the bulk update functionality. Guidance can be found on the Capacity Tracker website.
- Data must be reviewed between the 8th and the 14th day of each month even if no changes are to be made.
- Visual changes will have been made to the capacity tracker so that providers can see which questions are mandatory and which are not.
- An enforcement mechanism will be rolled out, as outlined below.
How will this be enforced?
There is currently no specific guidance on enforcement. The DHSC have stated that this will be published once enforcement regulations are made. Whilst provision of the data becomes mandatory from 31 July 2022, the enforcement mechanism will not begin until November 2022. Providers should focus on getting this right and adopting a procedure to fulfil the requirements before the penalties kick in.
Financial penalties can be issued, however this will be a final step where:
- A provider is persistently in breach of their data obligations; and
- The NHS Business Services Authority have offered support and the provider continues to not share their data.
The enforcement process will take place over several months, in which providers will be given a right of reply to explain why a financial penalty should not be imposed. The DHSC have stated that the level of fines will be the same as a provider's registration fee and providers can appeal a final penalty notice to the First-tier Tribunal.
Examples of expected fines for care homes failing to comply are set out in the table below:
|Number of service users||Expected fine|
We have included expected fees for care homes with up to 50 service users. If, for example, you have over 90 beds the expected fines would be £15,710. Different types of service will be exposed to different levels of fine.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.