PERFORMANCE: An MP has called for an inquiry into foundation trust regulator Monitor after its chairman admitted it was “very likely” there were deeper problems present at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay when it was granted FT status.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and president of the Liberal Democrats, said the government must “step in and make sure we reform the procedures so that this crisis doesn’t strike another trust”.

Monitor authorised the provider as a foundation trust in October 2010. Less than a year a Care Quality Commission investigation found cause for “major concerns” in Morecambe Bay’s Furness General Hospital maternity unit. This led ultimately to Monitor uncovering deep governance problems at the trust, and stepping in to install a new chairman.

Monitor chairman and interim chief executive David Bennett this week told HSJ: “I accept that it’s very possible, very likely even, that there were issues – deeper issues – [present at UHMB], at the time [that the trust was authorised]”.

In a statement issued in response, Mr Farron said: “The regulator is admitting that it granted foundation status to our trust despite there being major failings at Morecambe Bay - I want the government to launch an inquiry into what the failings in regulation are and were.

“The government must then step in and make sure we reform the procedures so that this crisis doesn’t strike another trust. The procedures failed and the regulators did not do their job. They must learn the lessons and make sure this never happens again.”

Mr Bennett told HSJ that, where there were “specific indications” of possible problems at an applicant,.he now believed Monitor needed to take further steps in future assessments to “reduce the likelihood that we’re missing something”.