Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA), has criticised the Care Quality Commission for the role it played during the crisis at Morecambe Bay University Hospitals.

In June 2013, it was discovered that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had failed to investigate failings at the Morecambe Bay University Hospitals maternity unit. Problems began to emerge in 2008 when preventable fatalities began to occur. In one case, newborn baby Joshua Titcombe died after staff failed to treat a simple infection.

Despite these failings, the CQC gave the Trust a clean bill of health in 2010. When the regulator was made aware of the problems the following year, an internal review was ordered. However, the resulting document laid blame upon the CQC, saying the issues should have been detected during inspections.

It is alleged that the CQC chose to suppress the report, not wanting to become embroiled in another scandal so soon after the Mid-Staffs crisis. The whole cover-up was later revealed and an independent report – called the Grant Thornton report – published. It states that senior managers at the Trust wanted to delete the damaging review in order to avoid public scrutiny.

In the AvMA Medical and Legal Journal, Peter Walsh says these “recent revelations have rocked confidence in the regulator to the foundations. The CQC…boasted that something like Mid-Staffs would not be allowed to happen on its watch. However, what we saw at Morecambe has many of the same hallmarks of what went on at Stafford.”

He added the similarities included “hospital managers who were seemingly obsessed with achieving Foundation Trust status and prepared to cover-up known problems”, as well as “regulators and commissioners who were all too prepared to ignore the warning signals and be assured by hearing what they wanted to hear.”

He concluded the editorial on a positive note, saying AvMA has “noticed a change in culture since the new management regime took over” at the CQC in June 2012. Nevertheless, this will be little consolation for those who lost loved ones at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, where the deaths of eight mothers and babies are being investigated by police.

Have you been affected by hospital negligence?

If you or your family member has been subject to shocking medical care, such as that provided at Morecambe Bay, you might want to consider taking legal action. Contact us today to find out more.

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