Failures at Morecambe Bay lead to overhaul of NHS inspections
South Lakes MP, Tim Farron today welcomed Government recommendations that the Care Quality Commission's regulatory model be changed following its failure to spot serious problems at the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital following the death of 9 day old baby Joshua Titcombe in November 2008.
Following an Inquest into the child's death, held in June last year, Monitor, the independent regulator, undertook an investigation of the maternity unit and found 119 risks, of which 66 were red, highlighting a serious failure. Eighteen months earlier, the Care Quality Commission had found the unit to be fully satisfactory. This raised very serious concerns over the inspection model used by the CQC, especially given the likelihood that the risks found by Monitor were present during an inspection in June 2010.
Tim met with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last month to press him to overhaul the inspection model and to make sure it was much tougher.
The Department of Health recently has now announced that the CQC must set out clear plans for constantly monitoring the quality and scope of its inspections, and should also take steps to ensure that these new measures are adhered to on an ongoing basis.
Commenting Tim said: "This is a hugely positive step. It will mean that the Care Quality Commission's inspections do what they are supposed to do. Inspections should not be run for the convenience of managers, but to ensure the safety of patients. CQC must now put mechanisms in place to help ensure that the tragic failures in Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust are not repeated elsewhere in the country.
"It is very reassuring that the implementation of proper measures will now bring early intervention where it is necessary and safeguard other hospital departments throughout England. I am only sorry that it took such a tragedy to highlight the CQC's failure to pick up on the problems at Furness General."