Former Healthcare Commission chair Sir Ian Kennedy has accused MPs of “shooting the messenger” in a Commons health committee report on patient safety.
The commission no longer exists and it is clearly tempting to blame it for the NHS’s failings. Shooting the messenger has always had an appeal to some
Unusually, the committee has published reactions to its findings from Monitor, the Care Quality Commission and Sir Ian, who was last week appointed chair of the independent parliamentary standards authority, which is to introduce and police reforms to parliamentary expenses.
In a letter to committee chair Kevin Barron MP (Lab), Sir Ian said: “I would have thought the excesses in the City and closer to your committee’s home… would persuade all but the unpersuadable that regulation has a place in the world.”
The Healthcare Commission was the only organisation willing to “probe fearlessly on behalf of patients” to uncover failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, he said.
Of the annual health check, which was criticised in the report, Sir Ian said the commission had “recognised from the outset that the [core] standards were often less than rigorous tools for assessing performance”. It had made “a number of requests” to the Department of Health for the standards to be changed, with no success, he said.
He added: “The commission no longer exists and it is clearly tempting to blame it for the NHS’s failings. Shooting the messenger has always had an appeal to some.”
Mr Barron acknowledged Sir Ian’s “huge” contribution towards patient safety and healthcare regulation. The committee’s criticisms were directed at the framework laid down by the government rather than the commission’s implementation of its statutory duties, he said.
He added that the committee had not intended to blame the commission but to “apportion blame, and indeed praise, in a fair and even handed fashion”.