Two new Care Quality Commission whistleblowers - including one board member - have been called to give evidence to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.
Kay Sheldon, a non-executive director, and Amanda Pollard, an inspector, have both given statements to the inquiry which HSJ understands criticise the regulator’s leadership and contradict evidence given to the inquiry by members of the executive team.
The inquiry, which is halfway through hearing closing statements, had stopped accepting new evidence but has made an exception to hear from Ms Sheldon and Ms Pollard on Monday.
Ms Sheldon, who has sat on the board since the CQC was set up in 2009, was a Mental Health Act commissioner for 11 years and a member of the Mental Health Act Commission Board for five years.
HSJ understands she contacted the inquiry after her attempts to raise concerns internally failed to produce what she believed was a satisfactory response..
Her evidence is likely to be the latest in a stream of criticism of the regulator’s leadership. As well as facing criticism from former employees in evidence to the inquiry, a report from the Health Select Committee in September found senior management had not done enough to stand up to the government in the face of unrealistic demands.
In October the inquiry called two frontline CQC staff to give evidence after a leaked document suggested evidence give by some members of the senior team, including chair Dame Jo Williams, about how the CQC’s inspection teams worked did not reflect reality.
Senior operations analyst Rona Bryce told the inquiry she had found the evidence to be “aspirational”.
In an interview with HSJ last week CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said it was “hard” that the media and other commentators did not take into account how “challenging” it had been to set up the regulator.
The CQC was formed from a merger of the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Improvement and the Mental Health Commission and given a significantly smaller budget than the three organisations combined.
She said she could cope with people thinking she was “incompetent” but hated being thought of as “self-serving”.