Monitor is to toughen disclosure rules for would-be foundation trusts, after a probe found University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay withheld information that could have led regulators to discover its major care failures sooner.
The FT regulator said it would in future require applicant trusts to sign a letter confirming that “all relevant information” had been disclosed, and to provide all reports on their governance or service quality from the preceding two years.
The move is a response to a review into how Morecambe Bay was able to win FT status in October 2010, just months before it was engulfed in a major care scandal.
HSJ revealed in March that the review, by consultants KPMG, had recommended the regulator commission deeper probes of applicants where it had specific quality or governance concerns.
The full review has now been released. It states that while Monitor was assessing UHMB’s FT application in 2010 the trust failed to disclose “the existence or findings” of a 2010 report by Dame Pauline Fielding on its maternity services.
KPMG said serious concerns about the trust’s maternity services that were not uncovered by the Care Quality Commission until July 2011 were “the same as those raised in the Fielding report 12 months previously”.
The CQC’s own June 2010 review of Morecambe Bay maternity services, by contrast, found the trust compliant with safety standards. The CQC had “indicated” it may have probed more deeply had it been aware of the Fielding report at the time, KPMG reported.
KPMG added that in September last year, after the CQC finally issued a warning notice to Morecambe Bay, a baby died in childbirth at the trust. The trust indicated that the cause related to “issues raised by the CQC warning notice”.
Monitor accepted the report’s recommendations on tougher disclosure rules and additional probes.
However, the father of a baby who died at Morecambe Bay said he wanted a public inquiry into the scandal. It was James Titcombe who made the CQC aware of the Fielding report, in 2011. However, he said this was not in May last year, as KPMG stated, but January – six months before the CQC sent inspectors back into the trust.
A CQC spokesman said it had sought a copy of the Fielding report from UHMB following Mr Titcombe’s intervention, which it received in April 2011. The July inspection “was timed to enable us to consider the findings of the inquest into the death of Joshua Titcombe”, he added.