HSJ’s roundup of the day’s must read and must watch health stories

Witch hunts and implosions

The Care Quality Commission faced criticism on Wednesday, after Derby Teaching Hospitals FT was left with a £200,000 bill for an investigation into its chief executive Sue James after a “fit and proper person” complaint.

A 117 page report by barristers exonerates Sue James and describes her as an “exemplary chief executive”. It said the complaints made against her by paediatrician David Drew, while she was leading Walsall Healthcare Trust, were “misconceived” and labelled him an unreliable witness. Dr Drew accused the barristers of a “hatchet job”.

Derby’s chair, John Rivers, a former HR director at Rolls Royce, slated the CQC for its handling of the complaint after it emerged the watchdog refused to meet with him and withheld key evidence from the barristers, leading to “substantial delays” and the need to re-interview witnesses.

The report said this meant the final cost - estimated by the trust at £200,000 - was around double the original estimate.

Mr Rivers said the CQC should talk to trusts that have been through a fit and proper person complaint and draw up guidance to help them in the future.

He warned the pressure from these complaints could cause some trust boards “to implode”.

Ms James told us: “The legislation is designed to stop inappropriate people being directors but because of the way it is being run the danger is that it deters highly appropriate talented managers from ever being in the position where this sort of witch hunt could happen against them.

“I feel I have had to prove my innocence rather than anybody having to prove my guilt.”

Worcestershire made to feel special

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust became the latest trust to go into special measures on Wednesday, after being found “inadequate” by the CQC.

The troubled West Midlands trust has struggled with a variety of problems in recent years, including financial woes, a row over bullying and concerns over care in its emergency departments.

The latest action by the CQC follows the its decision in May to issue three warning notices after an inspection of the trust’s A&Es.

Inspectors this time around said the trust needs to make “urgent” improvements in areas including staffing levels, governance, investigation of clinical incidents and culture.

While the trust was rated “good” for whether its services were caring, it was rated “inadequate” for safety and leadership.

Consultant cover in the trust’s emergency department did not meet with Royal College of Emergency Medicine recommendations and inspectors found overcrowding in the department was a risk. In February, the trust saw a mass resignation of accident and emergency consultants.

The trust has been developing controversial plans to reconfigure its services since 2012 because of concerns its current setup is not financially or clinically sustainable.

HSJ correspondent Will Hazell tweeted that special measures could provide the opportunity to kick start the stalled shake-up.