David Prior, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust, is shown some of the equipment in the new Angiography and Electrophysiology Suite by Diane Brown, catheter lab manager, cardiology.

New health regulator chairman pledges to make changes following critical MPs’ report

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
12.01 AM

The incoming chairman of the Care Quality Commission said changes needed to be made at England’s health and social care regulator following a scathing report by MPs.

David Prior will leave his post as chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the end of the month to take up his new role at the body, which is responsible for making sure the country’s hospitals and care homes are meeting national standards.

Mr Prior accepted that change was needed at the CQC after a report by a group of MPs said that the regulator had not earned public confidence.

The findings by the Commons Health Select Committee, which are published today, said public assurance in the organisation had been “undermined” because of failures in the registration process and despite “sustained criticism”, it had failed to define its core purpose.

The MPs’ report concluded that Mr Prior should overhaul the governance structure at the CQC, which was formed in 2009, when he starts his role as chairman.

Mr Prior, who joined the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ten years ago, yesterday said he was looking forward to the new challenge.

“I think there needs to be changes, but until I get my feet under the table it would unfair to comment further.

“It will be challenging because care quality is so important. There have been so many incidents in hospitals and care homes where it has fallen far short and changes need to be made to ensure we get things better,” he said.

The CQC has come under criticism for failing to ensure all essential standards were being met at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which is at the centre of a police investigation concerning a number of deaths at the Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria.

Public confidence in the organisation was also weakened last year when the body failed to address issues raised by board member Kay Sheldon, MPs added.

They said that it was “regrettable” that Ms Sheldon was forced to voice concerns about poor leadership and safety breaches at the regulator at the public inquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Prior added: “Whether it is a care home or hospital, there has to be public confidence and if you read newspaper headlines, public confidence is clearly dented in lots of places. The vast majority of nurses and doctors that work in hospitals and care homes are fantastic people. There are a few rotten apples in the barrel that we need to root out.”

Reacting to the MPs’ report, CQC chief executive David Behan said changes were already being made to regulate different organisations.

“We will ensure that openness and transparency are at the heart of the way we develop,” he said.