Name and shame! Truth must come out vows Jeremy Hunt after report reveals baby deaths CQC cover-up

New chairman of the Care Quality Commission says that his organisation is still “not fully set up” to inspect hospitals

The public can have no confidence that the hospitals watchdog has done a good job, its own chair has admitted, as the Health Secretary was forced to apologise for a cover-up over a scandal-hit hospital where mothers and babies died because of poor care.

David Prior, the new chairman of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), made the stark admission as an independent review revealed senior officials at the health watchdog suppressed a report that highlighted failings at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, apologised on behalf of the Government and the NHS to the families of patients involved. The Trust is being investigated by police over the deaths of eight mothers and babies.

Mr Prior told his board: “We can have no confidence, I think, not just at Morecambe Bay but across many more hospitals, that we have done a proper job.” He also admitted to the BBC that the CQC was “not set up then, and we’re not fully set up now, to investigate hospitals”.

Mr Hunt told the Commons that the failings at Morecambe Bay had been “a terrible personal tragedy for all the families involved”. “A culture in the NHS had been allowed to develop where defensiveness and secrecy were put ahead of patient safety and care,” he said. “I want to... ensure this kind of cover-up never happens again.”

Names of those accused of a cover-up within the CQC were removed from the independent report, commissioned by the watchdog and carried out by management consultants Grant Thornton.

But Mr Hunt said that neither he nor the chair of the CQC had wanted the names to be redacted and may now ask the Information Commissioner to rule on the decision. “There should be no anonymity, no hiding place, no opportunity to get off scot free for anyone at all who was responsible for this.”

The CQC is understood to have received legal advice that naming names would be a breach of the Data Protection Act. However, Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said that the names should be released under the act’s public interest exemption rule. “There are clear and explicit exemptions to the act when it comes to ‘protecting members of the public from dishonesty, malpractice, incompetence or seriously improper conduct or in connection with health and safety’,” he said.

Mr Hunt has asked that the CQC look into the allegations of a cover-up and report back to him on exactly what advice the CQC were given that led them not to publish the names.

Mr Prior, who took charge of the CQC four months ago, told the BBC: “I have known for the last three months that we were not fit for purpose at all when it came to hospital inspections and that we had to fundamentally change the way we’re doing it.” He said that hospital inspections had previously been done by people with no medical expertise, including members of the fire service.

The CQC’s former chair, Dame Jo Williams, resigned in September and its chief executive, Cynthia Bower, left in February. Mr Prior said the former board had been “totally dysfunctional”.

The NHS’s chief medical officer, Sir Bruce Keogh, is currently investigating 14 hospitals that have seen persistently high mortality rates.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman insisted the Government had already taken “very clear, strong action” to reform the CQC.

“What occurred was... deeply disturbing and appalling,” the spokesman said.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, said that those responsible for the cover-up should not have been allowed to leave “with an unblemished record”.

Case study: ‘It embodies all that’s wrong with the NHS’

James Titcombe and his wife, Hoa, arrived at the Furness General Hospital at Morecambe Bay, Cumbria, on 27 October 2008. Their son, Joshua, was born that morning.

Nine days later, Mr Titcombe, a nuclear engineer from Barrow-in-Furness, watched his son die. Midwives and medical staff at Furness General failed to detect and monitor an infection, which became so serious that Joshua had to be transferred for intensive care at two different hospitals.

He died on 5 November. “We repeatedly asked why he didn’t need antibiotics and were reassured that he seemed fine  and there was no reason to give them to him,” Mr Titcombe said.

He has led the campaign for a public inquiry into “serious systemic failures” at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust which manages Furness General. Today he called reports of a cover-up at the Care Quality Commission “shocking”. “It embodies everything wrong with the culture in the NHS,” he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
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

    MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

    £25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Primary General Cover Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...

    ICT Teacher for Maternity cover

    £110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job * This is a new post...

    Head of English

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Head of English requi...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album