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20.06.13

CQC ‘failed fundamental duty’ – Hunt

CQC chairman David Prior is to report back to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt on the actions the regulator will take in response to a review that was covered-up to hide the CQC’s failings at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

This will include internal disciplinary procedures and may involve the naming of individuals involved in the suppression of the original report, as demanded by a number of national newspapers this morning.

In a statement, Hunt said: “What happened at Morecambe Bay Hospital is, above all, a terrible personal tragedy for all of the families involved. As we saw with Mid Staffs, a culture in the NHS had been allowed to develop where defensiveness and secrecy were put ahead of patient safety and care. The role of the regulator is to be a champion for patients, to expose poor care and make sure steps are taken to root it out. It must do this without fear or favour. It is clear that at Morecambe Bay the CQC failed this fundamental duty.

“We now have new leadership at the CQC and we should recognise their role in turning things around. David Behan was appointed chief executive in July 2012. One of his very first acts was to commission the report we are now debating. David Prior was appointed the new Chairman in January this year. He has rightly insisted this report be published as soon as possible.”

The CQC is appointing three new Chief Inspectors – of hospitals, social care and general practice. Ofsted-style performance ratings are also being introduced for hospitals, to allow patients to compare care more easily.

A spokesperson for the NHS Confederation commented: “The report by Grant Thornton is another key sign of the problems associated with the previous NHS inspection regime. It is not acceptable that the CQC, which should have been the body that acted on behalf of the public, failed in its duties.

“The report indicates why we welcome the policy proposals issued by the Secretary of State to create a new clearer role of Chief Inspector of Hospitals, a legal duty of candour for the NHS and the imminent work by the CQC to improve their inspection regime.

“The findings show that the NHS needs to change its culture. We must have a more transparent regime that operates in the interests of patients and the public. We are determined to get this right.”

And Royal College of Midwives’ chief executive Cathy Warwick added: “The RCM looks forward to working closely with CQC into the investigation in Morecambe Bay. We welcome the changes to the CQC’s role, including the appointment of the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, to provide a champion and watchdog for exposing bad practice and care in the NHS and efforts to improve hospital inspections.”

(Image shows Jeremy Hunt addressing Parliament yesterday. PA Wire.)

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