Exclusive - 'I've been hung out to dry': CQC chief Cynthia Bower hits back at accusations of a cover-up after deaths of mothers and babies at Morecambe Bay NHS hopsitals
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 25 June 2013
The former head of the Care Quality Commission accused of conspiring to suppress a report into a flawed inspection of an NHS Trust has categorically denied being involved in a cover up.
Cynthia Bower, 57, who resigned from the £200,000 post last year, said she and her former colleagues had been “hung out to dry” by the CQC and had not been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Her comments came as Cumbria police announced they were investigating whether any criminal offence may have occurred during the alleged cover-up of a damning review of an inspection at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, where up to 16 babies and two mothers are feared to have died because of poor care.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the first she has given since she resigned last year, Ms Bower said she had been forced to leave her home in Birmingham and go “on the run” as a result of the media furore provoked by the allegations.
She accused the CQC of commissioning a report from management accountants Grant Thornton that was neither fair nor reasonable and “against natural justice”.
It alleged she had been involved with colleagues in a decision to delete the internal review of the inspection at the Morecambe Bay hospitals at a meeting in March 2012.
Her deputy Jill Finney was alleged to have ordered that the review be binned supported by Ms Bower and Anna Jefferson, media manager who is alleged to have said: “Are you kidding me? This can never be in the public domain.”
All three executives deny the allegations. Ms Bower said: “I can’t speak for someone else’s interpretation. All I can say is I didn’t say it [delete the report], no one else said it and the report still exists. I categorically deny the words that have been put in people’s mouths.”
She said the allegations were a matter for the police and should never have been investigated by a firm of accountants. “I have no reason to be concerned by a police investigation – I would have welcomed it. It would have been a fairer and more reasonable process.”
She added: “This is a report that has hung people out to dry for something we categorically deny.”
She admitted the CQC inspection process had failed to uncover failings at the Morecambe Bay trust. “We should have registered it with conditions,” she said. But she could not say what action the CQC took to improve inspections. “Many changes were already in place. We had to learn on the job.”
She said she was “taking legal advice” on how to respond to the allegations. “I am unemployable. I have been accused of suppressing a report about babies dying in hospital. Who wants to give me a job?”
A former director of operations at the CQC claimed yesterday he was sacked after raising serious concerns about the way the regulator was run.
David Johnstone said he was escorted off the premises then hit with a gagging order after putting together a plan to introduce fundamental changes in the organisation.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...