Sir Ian Kennedy has written to the chair of the House of Commons health select committee to correct “misunderstandings” over the Healthcare Commission’s investigation into Mid Staffordshire foundation trust.

Sir Ian, chair of the commission until it this week when it was wound down, wrote to Kevin Barron saying he understood that the committee may carry out its own inquiry into the scandal.

The letter, seen by HSJ, states: “I write to you out of concern for the public record… Some misunderstandings have emerged about the Healthcare Commission’s investigation into the trust.”

The investigation, published two weeks ago, found “appalling” standards of emergency care at the hospital.

“No delay”

The commission has been accused of waiting too long before intervening by the campaign group Action Against Medical Accidents, which is calling for a public inquiry.

Sir Ian wrote: “For the avoidance of doubt, there was no delay in responding: action on the ground could not have been more swift.”

He stressed that annual health check assessments “will not always spot every area of inadequacy” and problems can be “masked by the bigger picture”.

Performance managers

Responsibility for managing performance lay with the trust, NHS West Midlands, the commissioning primary care trust and the foundation trust regulator, Monitor, he said.

Care Quality Commission chief executive Cynthia Bower, formerly NHS West Midlands chief executive, told HSJ that the strategic health authority lacked the capacity of the commission to investigate fully.

But Sir Ian said: “These performance managers are able to visit any trust and call for whatever information they believe is necessary from the trust to carry out their duties.”

Foundation status

Sir Ian also made it clear that the commission did not know Mid Staffordshire was being considered for foundation status. But Monitor did speak with the SHA, which the letter says “was aware of our work on mortality outliers and alerts by then”.

The letter was also sent to selected MPs, Monitor’s executive chairman Bill Moyes, NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett and CQC chair Barbara Young.

A health select committee spokeswoman said there were no plans at present for an inquiry into Mid Staffordshire foundation trust.