Recommendation 250

Incorrect information in quality accounts

Accepted in principle
It should be a criminal offence for a director to sign a declaration of belief that the contents of a quality account are true if it contains a misstatement of fact concerning an item of prescribed information which he/she does not have reason to believe is true at the time of making the declaration.

We will use the consultation on false or misleading information to consider whether the offence should be applied to the information on quality accounts.

The Care Bill proposes a new offence where care providers give false or misleading information.  This will give providers an additional incentive to ensure data and the information it provides are accurate.  The offence will aid transparency and accountability in the provision of care so that regulators, commissioners and the public have a more accurate picture about a provider’s performance.  The offence will apply to those care providers that falsify certain types of management and performance information and fail to exercise due diligence.  Providers that make a genuine administrative error would not be convicted, providing they have processes and procedures in place to demonstrate they took all reasonable steps and exercised due diligence.

The offence will allow for the prosecution of directors and senior individuals, where the offence has been committed with their consent or connivance or through their neglect, and a successful prosecutions has been brought against the provider.

Our current intention is that regulations will limit the application of this offence in the first instance to providers of NHS funded secondary care and, more specifically, to the patient level information on outpatient, elective and accident and emergency activity that they are required to provide to the Health and Social Care Information Centre. However, we intend to test and confirm our thinking through further consultation before draft regulations are laid.

Update

The Care Act 2014 has put in place a new criminal offence applicable to care providers who supply, publish or otherwise make available certain types of information that is false or misleading, where that information is required to comply with a statutory or other legal obligation.  This offence also applies to senior individuals in a provider organisation if they consent to or connive in the offence.