CQC chiefs admit cover-up naming error
Bosses at England’s health regulator have admitted they “got it wrong” after they blocked the discharge of the names of officials accused of a canopy-up.
The admission by Care Quality Commission chief executive David Behan and chairman David Prior was made as they appeared before a set of MPs.
The names of these considering the alleged cover-up over baby deaths were only released after a public outcry.
The House of Commons’ Health Committee heard that this have been a mistake.
The CQC originally cited data protection rules for not releasing the names when it published a review last month by consultants Grant Thornton into how the organisation had investigated Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.
But they came under immediate pressure from ministers and the info commissioner, who accused them of hiding behind the information Protection Act.
Within an afternoon the identities of the 3 – former chief executive Cynthia Bower, her deputy Jill Finney and media manager Anna Jefferson – have been revealed.
Mr Prior said he “regretted” the mistake, adding: “I got that decision completely wrong. I accept that criticism.”
Meanwhile, Mr Behan said: “I made the choice. I clearly got that inaccurate.”
Mr Behan, who has only been in post a year, went directly to say that he was attempting to reshape the organisation to make it more transparent and effective.
He stated that the best way hospitals were now being inspected have been beefed up so inspections were longer and involved more experts in health care.
The controversy over the CQC’s handling of Furness General Hospital emerged following the review by Grant Thornton, ordered by Mr Behan after he took over the regulator.
Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, was given a clean bill of health in 2010 despite problems emerging concerning the maternity unit – greater than 30 families have now taken legal action against the hospital on the subject of baby and maternal deaths and injuries from 2008.
In 2011 – with more concerns arising – the CQC ordered an internal review into how the issues were missed.
But in 2012 when the report was finished, the writer had allegedly been told to “delete” it, the Grant Thornton report said.
Ms Bower and Ms Jefferson are purported to have “verbally agreed” to the canopy-up under the instruction of Ms Finney since it was “potentially damaging to the CQC’s reputation”.
All three deny the allegations.