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News - 12 December 2011

New inquiry into NHS regulator

In an unprecedented move, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has gone outside the Department of Health and appointed Gill Rider, president of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a former Cabinet Office civil servant, to investigate claims that the board of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had been "sidelined" after asking questions about the watchdog's leadership.

This follows on from a report by The National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this month the CQC had not provided value for money for taxpayers and its failures had risked "unsafe or poor quality (patient) care".

The CQC's board, made up of four experts and led by its chair, is responsible for "strategic oversight" and is supposed to hold chief executive Cynthia Bower and her management to account.

Andrew Lansley is said to have been alarmed to read the testimony to the inquiry last month from Kay Sheldon, a CQC board member, denouncing Bower and chair Dame Jo Williams for putting "reputation-management and personal survival" ahead of patients' best interests.

Lansley has demanded a report on his desk “within weeks” that will see if “these matters were handled correctly”.

Apart from the public inquiry, the NAO report and the parliamentary committee’s investigation, a Department of Health performance and capability review is being held into the CQC.

On Monday Cynthia Bower will face MPs on the public accounts committee who want her to answer criticisms about the performance of the CQC since she took over in 2008.

We will keep you informed.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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