Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Whistle-blowing and the CQC

I’ve mentioned the Care Quality Commission (CQC) before. It’s the body that inspects health and adult social care in England. I have been quite impressed with their new management, under David Prior, who seems to be clearing up one hell of a mess, created by the former management team, who have now all ‘moved-on’.

None of that stopped me being shocked rigid by the revelations in today’s media ( that the CQC, under its former bosses, hushed up important reports concerning an under-performing maternity unit, which allowed the unit to continue unchecked with further infant deaths resulting.

And then there was the amazing revelation, covered at length in today’s Independent, ( that a member of the CQC’s Board Kay Sheldon, who tried to blow the whistle on this state of affairs, was branded as ‘mentally unstable’ by the then chairman, Dame Jo Williams. Taxpayers’ money was apparently used to pay a psychiatrist to prepare a report on Ms Sheldon, with a view to removing her from the Board.

This type of shenanigans has no place in a body charged with safety and quality improvement. Inspection may be at the best of times a blunt tool, but without openness it is no kind of tool at all. Just as I always wonder how a Soviet agent became the head of MI6 (could they have appointed a worse person for the job?) I am utterly gob-smacked that someone somewhere seems to have allowed a group of people who have no idea about quality and safety to become precisely those people who are placed in charge of an organisation charged to deliver quality and safety improvements.

If you wrote about it in a novel they would say it was incredible …