Jeremy Laurance: The new regulator mustbe made of sterner stuff

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The Independent Online

Cynthia Bower never looked comfortable as Britain's chief health and social care inspector. But was she the wrong person in the wrong job – or was the job impossible to do? She arrived at the CQC in 2009 under a cloud because of her association with the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.

She had been chief executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, with responsibility for Mid-Staffordshire trust, and was criticised for being "too easily assured" that nothing was amiss. Her credibility was thus compromised from the start. But her supporters say she was compromised by the job, by the Department of Health's insistence that the CQC undertake the work of three organisations with two thirds of their resources.

Critics say Ms Bower should have demonstrated her independence and demanded resources. Instead, she tried to please everybody and pleased no one.

Mr Lansley now has to find a replacement. It will not be easy. He may want to look outside health and social care where candidates are less likely to emerge with conflicts of interest.

A regulator must establish their independence and cleave to it – something Ms Bower never quite managed.