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MP calls for investigation into health regulator's admission

March 29, 2012 11:25 AM

Tim and the Lib Dems at WGHSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has called for an urgent investigation into the health regulator Monitor, after its Interim Chief Executive admitted that it had failed to act with due diligence over the University Hospitals of Morecambe NHS Trust (UHMBT).

In an interview with the Health Service Journal (HSJ) David Bennett, Monitor's Executive Chair and Interim Chief Executive admitted it was "very likely" . UHMBT had "deep-seated problems" at the time his organisation granted the trust foundation status. Mr Bennett told HSJ: "I accept that it's very possible, very likely even, that there were issues - deeper issues - at the time of assessment."

Dr Bennett told HSJ that Monitor needed to strengthen its assessment process after major failings in the trust's management and maternity services came to light within 12 months of authorisation being given.

The regulator said it would introduce detailed "quality governance" to make sure that trusts meet the standards required to be a Foundation Trust. But when asked if Monitor had applied these checks for UHMBT, Dr Bennett replied: "The simple answer is no."

In the interview Dr Bennett admitted that the regulator had held "a discussion" internally about whether to conduct a quality governance review atMorecambeBay but decided against it.

He went on to say that: "Ultimately it's a decision for the Monitor board. My personal view is, in simple terms, yes. Where there are specific indications of possible problems we should dig somewhat deeper, to reduce the likelihood that we're missing something."

Currently the trust is instigating a 'turn-around' plan at the behest of Monitor, which has led to a clear out senior management and major changes at the trust. The Care Quality Commission are also investigating Accident and Emergency services.

The CQC Director of Operations Amanda Sherlock said she now believed there were underlying problems atMorecambeBayin 2010.

Tim said: "The regulator is admitting that it granted Foundation Status to our trust despite there being major failings at Morecambe Bay - I want the government to launch an inquiry into what the failings in regulation are and were. The Government must then step in and make sure we reform the procedures so that this crisis doesn't strike another trust. The procedures failed and the regulators did not do their job. They must learn the lessons and make sure this never happens again."