The body set up to regulate hospitals, care homes and GP practices has been slammed in a highly critical report by MPs. The Care Quality Commission which took over inspection and regulatory duties five years ago is accused of failing to define core purpose or to inspire public confidence.
The report by the Health Select Committee says the CQC "needs to show that it treats feedback from the public as free intelligence and that it acts swiftly when serious complaints are brought to light"
The report is likely to be welcomed by the relatives of those who lost loved ones in the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal. The campaign group 'Cure the NHS" has long argued that concerns about the poor treatment of patients fell on deaf ears.
The Committee Chairman Stephen Dorrell MP said he hoped a change of management at the top of the organisation will from now on will allow it to improve and regain public confidence.
The report said it was "regrettable" that a senior CQC member Kay Sheldon was forced to voice concerns about poor leadership and safety breaches at the regulator at the public inquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust." She gave evidence of a bullying culture at the CQC where concerns and worries were blocked.
"She identified serious failings within the management, organisation, functions and culture of the CQC", says the report.
"Kay Sheldon's concerns were legitimate and it is unacceptable that the CQC failed to address and act on them before she felt compelled to approach the public inquiry."
In response today the new Chief Executive of the CQC David Behan said:
"We will ensure that openness and transparency are at the heart of the way we develop.
"We are focused on protecting and promoting the health, safety and welfare of people who use health and care services."
The Francis report of the £11 million public inquiry into the serious failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, is due to be released at the end of this month.
Committee Chairman Stephen Dorrell MP commented on lessons that have been learnt from this report and of the Stafford Inquiry: