Senior figures have warned of “unintended consequences” of rushed legislation in response to the Francis report.
Part two of the government’s Care Bill includes provisions for a “single failure regime” for NHS providers, criminal sanctions for organisations found guilty of providing false or misleading information, and a rating system for health and social care providers.
The proposals could be debated in Parliament in the next two weeks, it has emerged.
Although the moves were first announced in March, few details have been published and there has been no consultation.
The Care was due to receive its second reading on 21 May. HSJ understands the Lords will consider part two of the bill in about two weeks.
Chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network Chris Hopson told HSJ he understood why the government drew up the legislation “very quickly” following the publication of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report in February.
However, he said the proposals were “far reaching” and the speed and lack of proper consultation increased the risk of “unintended consequences”.
Under the plans for a single failure regime, Monitor or the NHS Trust Development Authority could intervene in NHS providers based on quality concerns, and the Care Quality Commission would be able to require Monitor to put a foundation trust into special administration.
The bill also makes provisions for a new type of warning notice for NHS trusts and foundation trusts which can be issued by the CQC even if providers are meeting the regulator’s standards.
Mr Hopson said while defining financial failure could be “obvious”, failures of quality were less clear cut.
Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership told HSJ he feared the introduction of a criminal sanction for providing misleading information could have a “chilling effect”.
He added: “Our concern is that we want the offence to be better defined. You present data all the time in a way which best demonstrates the point you are trying to make; to put the best spin on the situation. Is that misleading?”
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar told HSJ: “Sometimes [a quick process] doesn’t allow detailed nuances of a policy to be debated. You have got to talk to the professionals about it otherwise you end up with legislation that doesn’t do what you were hoping.”
The Department of Health told HSJ it was working quickly on the changes as part of its response to the Francis report. A spokesman said: “This is what patients would expect and deserve. There will be further opportunity for debate as the Bill progresses through the house.”
A spokesman for the DH said the Bill was “quite explicit” the proposed criminal sanction “means organisations and not individuals”.