Ministers should not have a "knee jerk reaction" and overhaul England's health and care regulator, doctors' leaders have said.

Officials should resist the temptation to reorganise the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following the scandal which has engulfed the organisation, the British Medical Association (BMA) said.

The watchdog has been at the centre of a row over allegations it covered up a failure to properly investigate University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust where a number of mothers and babies died.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of council at the BMA, told the BBC: "I think it is absolutely not the time to decide we need to reorganise it all from top to bottom again.

"We should actually remember that sometimes you shouldn't react in a knee jerk way but allow changes that are under way to bed in."

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said earlier that said "institutional secrecy" was put ahead of patient safety in hospitals and at the CQC.

Dr Poulter linked the Morecambe Bay events to the findings of a public inquiry which discovered hundreds of patients at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust might have died needlessly after they were "routinely neglected".

In an article for the Daily Telegraph he wrote: "At Morecambe Bay, like Mid Staffs, a rotten culture took hold. Both at the hospital where patients were supposed to be cared for, and the regulator which was supposed to be championing the vulnerable, the elderly and the sick.

"Again and again, a desire not to face up to the reality of poor care saw institutional secrecy put ahead of patient safety."

The minister's intervention came as the Labour MP whose constituency includes the hospital at the centre of the Morecambe Bay allegations called for a full independent inquiry to begin.

John Woodcock, whose seat contains Furness General Hospital, said: "The latest evidence on the CQC cover-up show why the stalled independent inquiry into failings at Morecambe Bay should begin right now and be widened to include the CQC cover-up in March last year."

Mr Woodcock said he has written to Bill Kirkup, chairman of the proposed inquiry, asking him to begin work as soon as possible.

He added: "The more questions that are raised about this murky business, the more important it becomes to investigate it further - including who outside the CQC was aware and what they did."