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Both the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Government have released statements promising to make improvements to overhaul their services after a report released by the CQC detailed their oversights of University Hospitals Morecambe Bay (UHMB) in 2010.
In his apology, on behalf of the Government and the NHS to the parents and families involved, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I want to apologise on behalf of the government and the NHS for all the appalling suffering they have endured - and in that context I know the whole House will wish to extend our condolences to every one of them.”
The Trust is being investigated by police over the deaths of mothers and babies in their maternity ward since 2008 and has highlighted the failings by the care watchdog to detect and possibly cover up poor care. So far over 30 families have taken legal action over the deaths and injuries.
The CQC has released a review of their failings conducted by management consultants Grant Thornton, which echoed the findings from the report on the Mid Staffordshire Francis report, revealing a lack of communication between organisations, as well as a failure to listen to people using the services.
The review has not yet released the names of those who might have been responsible for covering up evidence of the failures of the CQC in 2010. Although the CQC claims that no official decision has been yet, the Health Minister Lord Howe has said in the House of Lords that it is his ‘understanding’ that the names of these people will be released later today.
The CQC has promised that there will be a change in the way they are run and described the improvements being made by the new executive board, which has been entirely replaced since the failings in 2010.
David Prior, CQC’s chair, said: "CQC’s Chief Executive, David Behan, was absolutely right to commission an independent report into CQC's handling of the registration and subsequent monitoring of UHMB - and absolutely right to publish it in full. The publication draws a line in the sand for us. What happened in the past was wholly unacceptable. The report confirms our view that at a senior level the organisation was dysfunctional. The Board and the senior executive team have been radically changed.”
Mr Hunt described how the Government and CQC are implementing new plans to ensure that serious failings seen at Mid Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay are avoided in the future.
Mr Hunt said: “The report lists what went wrong over many years: unclear regulatory processes; reports commissioned and then withheld; lack of sharing of key information; and communication problems throughout the organisations.
“The role of the regulator is to be a champion for patients, to expose poor care and make sure steps are taken to root it out.
“It is clear that at Morecambe Bay the CQC failed this fundamental duty.
“David Behan was appointed chief executive in July 2012. One of his very first acts was to commission the report we are now debating. David Prior was appointed the new chairman in January this year. He has rightly insisted this report be published as soon as possible.
“The Government will also amend the CQC registration requirements so that they include an emphasis on fundamental standards – the basic levels below which care must never fall, such as making sure patients are properly fed, washed and treated with dignity and respect.
“Failure to adhere to these will result in serious consequences for providers, including potentially criminal prosecution.”
Mr Hunt said the future of the CQC will be based on a culture which primarily focuses on reducing the chances of harming a patient in the course of their care. He also promoted a need for openness and trancparency to ensure that problems are dealt with honestly and in an open way.
Mr Hunt concluded: “Our thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants want nothing less. We must not let them down, nor the families who suffered in Morecambe Bay.”