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.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game