“The watchdog responsible for overseeing NHS hospitals and care homes is being urgently investigated by the Department of Health over a series of alleged failures that could have risked patient care.
“The [Care Quality Commission]’s chief executive, Cynthia Bower, spent last Thursday morning being questioned by Una O’Brien, the health department’s permanent secretary, before a team of Whitehall officials descended on the watchdog’s headquarters in the City that afternoon.
“The inquiry coincides with investigations by the National Audit Office and the Commons public accounts committee.”
“The Guardian has established that:
“• The CQC misled parliament in its annual report, overstating the number of inspections and reviews of the NHS, independent healthcare and adult social care sectors it carried out. Rather than the 15,220 “inspections and reviews” it claimed to have undertaken in the year ending March 2011, it has now admitted to the DoH that the correct figure is 7,368.
“• There has been rising disquiet over the CQC’s “light touch” regulation. Until May 2011, when BBC’s Panorama exposed the scandal of abuse at Winterbourne View, a private hospital for people with learning disabilities, the CQC had launched just one investigation. By contrast, its predecessor, the Healthcare Commission, completed 16 investigations in five years. After the BBC’s story the regulator launched two investigations into NHS hospital trusts.”