This site is intended for health professionals only
Incorporating your PCN does not inherently require registering the network with the CQC, a leading expert has explained after the BMA raised concerns over a lack of clarity.
According to Nils Christiansen, managing partner at DR Solicitors, even if a PCN becomes a legal entity, its role in supplying staff to practices is not subject to CQC regulation.
It comes after the BMA claimed in a newsletter that there were ‘concerns and some confusion’ at a local level regarding if or how PCNs should register with the CQC.
The CQC is only able to regulate legal entities, therefore excluding standard PCNs from registration.
But the BMA said there was confusion surrounding whether a PCN’s incorporation automatically created a legal entity that required CQC registration, while others did not feel this was the case.
It also told Pulse PCN that ‘the view from local CQC staff on occasions was also unclear on this point’.
The CQC told the BMA that in a situation where an unregistered provider organisation becomes a legal entity and will have ‘ongoing direction and control of the delivery of regulated activities’, it would need to register for regulation.
However, it clarified: ‘If a PCN becomes a legal entity but does not directly control and deliver regulated activities – for example by supplying staff to assist constituent practices to deliver their regulated activities – there is no need to register with CQC.’
And on its website, it advises: ‘Regardless of whether arrangements are formal or informal, it is important for providers to clearly identify the legal entity responsible for carrying on the regulated activities.’
Speaking with Pulse PCN, Mr Christiansen explained that as most, if not all, PCNs will not assume any clinical responsibility, they would not need to register, with regulation remaining with practices.
‘The key message we give to PCNs is to think about activity. If you have set up a shared entity to help the PCN, what does that legal entity actually do?’ he said.
‘If it’s only supplying staff to the practices and is therefore not taking responsibility for a regulated service, you don’t need to do anything as the regulated activity is happening in the member practices.’
Mr Christiansen warned, however, that PCN directors must consider where clinical responsibility lies within their network.
‘What you always need to keep at the back of your mind is: who is taking clinical responsibility for the services delivered?’ he said.
‘And if the answer to that question is one or more of the practices, then that’s fine. The relevant practice’s CQC registration is the one that applies.
‘If, however, clinical responsibility migrates somewhere else, that other entity needs to be regulated. So it’s really as simple as that.’