The Care Quality Commission has ordered an independent review into its involvement with troubled University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.
The regulator’s leadership faced a grilling on Tuesday from the Commons health committee about how a June 2010 inspection missed problems in the trust’s maternity department and why CQC director of operations Amanda Sherlock defended the inspection as “robust” at an earlier hearing.
Morecambe Bay was registered by the CQC in April 2010 - a vital step towards becoming a foundation trust, something which occurred that October. The trust completed the process despite failings in its maternity department, which were uncovered by a trust-commissioned review in July 2010 but not by the CQC.
CQC chief executive David Behan told the committee the watchdog had commissioned an independent review of its involvement with Morecambe Bay from auditing company Grant Thornton.
Mr Behan said: “One of the issues with Morecambe Bay was whether the right amounts of information were being shared at the right time… Did we get registration right?”
Mr Behan and outgoing CQC chair Dame Jo Williams were also quizzed about the regulator’s workload. They revealed the CQC’s 950 inspectors had average caseloads of 41 providers. A total of 31,915 inspections were planned in 2012-13, up from 18,000 last year. There were 49 inspector vacancies, down from 197 in April this year, although Mr Behan admitted there were problems recruiting in London and the South East.
Mr Behan said the consistency of inspections was the issue most raised with him by providers since his appointment. Internal quality assurance groups have been set up to address this.
He also revealed 60 GP practices had been registered since the registration process opened at the start of September.
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Independent review to look at CQC handling of Morecambe Bay