• Tom Kark QC, former counsel to the Mid Staffs inquiry, to lead review
  • It is to look at how to prevent “redeployment or re-employment” of senior NHS managers
  • Review will consider introducing secondary amendments to legislation and extending regulation “beyond providers”

A leading QC from the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry will lead an independent review of the fit and proper person test regulations.

Health minister Steve Barclay told Parliamant yesterday in a written statement that Tom Kark QC will start work on the review next month. Mr Kark is due to report back to the Department of Health and Social Care by autumn this year.

Mr Barclay said the review will consider how the test can be used to prevent the “redeployment or re-employment of senior NHS managers where their conduct has fallen short of the values of the NHS”.

He said the Care Quality Commission, NHS Improvement, NHS England, MPs, and patients and relatives will be involved in the review.

The terms of reference said the report will consider:

  • Amendments to secondary legislation to improve how the test works.
  • Whether to extend the FPPT “above and beyond providers” to include a “full range of NHS bodies”.
  • What constitutes “misconduct” under the regulation. It will consider concerns such as refusal to cooperate with a review; “loss or falsification of records”; bullying and preventing people from whistleblowing.

The review was announced in February after the government accepted the Kirkup report’s recommendations following the failures at Liverpool Community Health Trust. Mr Barclay confirmed he had “discussed the terms of the review” with Rosie Cooper, the MP for West Lancashire, who was the first to raise concerns about the care provided by the trust.

As it stands, the CQC’s fit and proper person test is there to ensure directors of NHS providers are fit and proper to carry out their role. It was introduced in response to recommendations from the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry.

The regulations have been repeatedly criticised for the CQC’s inability to take action against trusts where managers have been accused of unfit behaviour. This included the appointment of former NHS chief executive Paula Vasco-knight, who was dismissed from her South Devon Foundation Trust role for victimising whistleblowers before joining St George’s University Hospital FT and being cleared by the CQC. She later stepped down and was convicted of fraud.

Mr Kark led the legal team to the public inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC from 2010 to 2013.