Hospital and care home watchdog criticised for its 'bullying' culture

 

The Government watchdog which regulates Britain's hospitals and care homes is so poorly run it would be unable to spot another major scandal putting patients' lives at risk, it was claimed yesterday.

Two whistleblowers, including a serving board member, came forward to make a series of damning allegations against the Care Quality Commission (CQC), citing a "bullying" target-driven culture, plunging morale and lack of strategic vision.

Their claims, in sworn evidence to the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Inquiry, will increase pressure on ministers to announce a widespread shake-up at the top of the CQC when the Department of Health completes its internal review of the organisation in the New Year.

On Friday, the National Audit Office is expected to release a critical report suggesting that the CQC is not using its resources effectively. In extraordinary evidence to the final week of the inquiry, the two whistleblowers said the body's chief executive, Cynthia Bower, and chair, Dame Jo Williams, were not up to the job of running the regulator.

Kay Sheldon, a non-executive director and patients' champion, said strategy at the CQC was "reactive and led by reputation management and personal survival". She described how she was "afraid" of giving evidence in public, and how, after becoming upset during a board meeting, Dame Williams had suggested she might be suffering from mental health problems linked to her history of depression.

Mrs Sheldon said she had been "inundated" with support after deciding to give evidence to the inquiry, which is charged with examining the scandal in Stafford in which up to 1,200 patients are believed to have died in sometimes appalling conditions. She said in a statement: "My main concern is that the organisation is badly led with no clear strategy. The chair and chief executive do not have the leadership or strategic capabilities required. I don't feel it is a happy place to work and I don't feel it is particularly safe."

Compliance inspector Amanda Pollard said she was forced to go public with her concerns after being ignored by senior management over her concerns at the scrapping of specialist teams. She described how staff redeployed from the disbanded Healthcare Commission "were literally laughing" at "how bad" training for their new roles was. When new targets increasing the number of inspections were announced, staff were told: "If you don't like the heat get out of the kitchen."

Some were reduced to tears in meetings and warned that failing to reach quotas could result in their being "named and shamed", she said.

Earlier this year the CQC admitted failing to follow up claims of mistreatment at Winterbourne View care home near Bristol, run by one of Britain's largest providers and exposed by the BBC's Panorama, which showed residents being hit and humiliated. Ten people were charged yesterday in connection with the ill treatment and neglect of patients.

In a statement given to the inquiry three non-executives said they fully supported the chair. The inquiry is expected to report its findings in March.

Care home arrests: ten staff charged

Ten staff at the Winterbourne View care home in Hambrook, south Gloucestershire, have been charged with a string of offences against four victims. They will appear in court next month in Bristol to face allegations of ill treatment and neglect of patients. The private hospital was closed by its owners after a BBC Panorama programme, broadcast in May, contained undercover footage which appeared to show vulnerable residents being pinned down, slapped, doused in water and taunted.

Three men who have also been arrested on suspicion of causing ill treatment, remain on police bail.

Rod Minchin

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

    Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before