The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman has pledged to help seal the “regulatory gap” identified by the Care Quality Commission after abandoning its probe into an historic complaint.

The ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, spoke out following concerns at the collapse of an inquiry into the treatment of baby Elizabeth Dixon.

Although Elizabeth died 13 years ago, a report linking her death to care failings at Frimley Park Hospital was only published last year.

Dame Julie said her watchdog would exercise its discretion in the most serious cases, claiming the “regulatory gap” did not exist.

“We are modernising our service to better meets the needs of the public in the 21st century,” she added.

“For those serious cases like avoidable deaths and serious untoward incidents we will look at applying our discretion so that we can take on those older cases.

“That would always mean we would need to consider [whether we] can conduct an effective investigation to gather evidence that would enable us to adjudicate.”

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