The government’s preferred candidate to chair the Care Quality Commission will be “hands-on” and “visible” in the role, he has told MPs.
David Prior, currently chair of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Trust, was before the Commons health committee for a pre-appointment hearing this morning.
The former Conservative party deputy chair and MP was quizzed by MPs on whether he would let his politics influenced him.
Mr Prior said he had vowed not to be party political when he first chaired the trust almost 11 years ago.
He revealed he had let his party membership “lapse” and pointed to the good relationships he had built with Labour MPs when they represented Norfolk seats and Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb as evidence of his independence.
Mr Prior said his decision to join Norfolk and Norwich had been driven by a desire to continue in public service after losing his seat to Mr Lamb in the 2001 general election. He told the committee he had seen the focus of the NHS move from finance to quality during his time at the trust.
Asked how he would approach the role at the CQC, he said: “I have to establish myself as a very visible, hands-on, chair of the organisation. The organisation needs stability and strong leadership.”
Mr Prior has also served as the chair of governors at a comprehensive school. He told MPs he had learned a lot from “being Ofsteded” that could be applicable to the CQC.
He said Ofsted’s focus on governance, alongside quality of teaching and performance metrics, allowed it to assure itself schools would be a strong performer in future.
“When a school is outstanding they don’t come back every six months, they come back once every three or five years,” he said. “They’re able to use that [focus on governance] to have a light touch. That’s one of the lessons I have learned from being the chair of a school which I think is applicable to the CQC.”
The CQC is currently developing a new strategy which is likely to move to involve a more risk based model of inspection and different approaches to regulation for different sectors.
Mr Prior said it seemed appropriate to focus resources on areas of high risk, such as single handed GP practices rather than large practices with lots of partners and mental health inpatient settings as opposed to more open environments.
He said the use of generic rather than specialist inspectors also needed to be considered by the CQC.
The committee is expected to make recommendations to the health secretary on whether the appointment should be confirmed next week.