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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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Watchdog to ‘review’ Furness General Hospital investigation

A HEALTH watchdog has launched a probe into allegations its former boss tried to stop another regulator from investigating concerns about a baby’s death at Furness General Hospital.

CONCERNS: James Titcombe

It comes after bereaved Dalton dad, James Titcombe, obtained documents relating to the death of his son, Joshua, nine days after his birth at FGH in October 2008.

Under the Data Protection Act, Mr Titcombe accessed a memo relating to an unminuted conversation between former CQC chief executive, Cynthia Bower, and health service ombudsman, Ann Abraham, in 2009.

It regarded the handling of complaints relating to the University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Barrow hospital.

Written by deputy ombudsman, Kathryn Hudson, to Ms Abraham, it said: “In your conversation with Cynthia Bower shortly before your leave, the suggestion arose that if we could assure Mr and Mrs Titcombe that as a result of their experiences CQC are now taking robust action to ensure improvements in the quality of maternity services in the trust, you might decide not to investigate.”

In another letter to CQC head of operations, Amanda Sherlock, she said: “My understanding from Ann was that she discussed this very sad case with Cynthia in order to consider the best way of handling it.

“I had thought that Cynthia had suggested there might be a better way to deal with the issues involved through other assessments of the quality of the trust and the future of midwifery services in the North West.

“If this were the case we could consider declining to investigate but would want to be able to assure the family their concerns were being dealt with robustly in another way.”

Mr Titcombe said this conversation is particularly concerning as he has since learned that a case adviser at the ombudsman’s office recommended an investigation in 2009 but was overruled by the ombudsman herself in 2010.

And, he added: “One of the notes referring to Cynthia Bower suggests that the ‘issues’ might be better dealt with by considering the ‘future of midwifery services in the North West’.

“I think serious questions need to be asked about what was meant by this.

“I believe that the long term future of midwifery services must include maintaining a full consultant-led unit in Barrow, but also that there is an urgent need for full independent inquiry to ensure the truth about these circumstances is established so that the same mistakes are not allowed to happened again.’’

A CQC spokesman said: “During the course of an independent review, further concerns have been raised by James Titcombe and as a result, we are commissioning a further review into our activity.”

A spokesman for the ombudsman is reported to have told national publication, the Health Service Journal, there is “no substance” to the allegations.

Have your say

In July 2012 CQC paid consultants Grant Thornton to provide a so called 'independent' [ho! ho!] review of CQC regulation of UHMB before and after Monitor authorisation. In September, CQC said the review would be completed in October, in November they said that the 'original report' would be completed in December- 2 days ago, they said it wasn't ready yet. There is also to be a further report related to 'additional allegations' [which I suspect are those put forward by James Titcombe]which is supposedly due in 'Spring'. On past performance, this means May or June. Rather like the report Monitor paid KPMG to provide about its failure over the UHMB authorisation, the consultants are likely to be careful to 'not find out' things that the regulator would prefer to forget, because the regulator is paying.

Posted by WilliamT on 8 December 2012 at 12:39

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