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NHS regulator ‘not fit for purpose’ for dismissing baby deaths scandal warnings

The healthcare regulator has been branded “not fit for purpose” after dismissing warnings of the biggest maternity scandal in NHS history, The Telegraph can reveal.

Letters seen by this newspaper show that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) told grieving parents it would not support an independent inquiry into baby deaths, just months before such an investigation was ordered.

Rhiannon Davies wrote to the watchdog in Dec 2016, alerting the regulator to 19 avoidable deaths of mothers and babies at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, as well as a string of cases where lives were put at risk.

However, the head of the CQC at the time assured Ms Davies that the culture was “changing for the positive”, rebuffing her calls for an independent inquiry.

Ms Davies had provided the watchdog with details of a string of deaths, which she and fellow bereaved parents had found from publicly available information.

The information was contained in a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary at the time, and shared with the regulator, setting out why families believed an inquiry was required.

On Tuesday night, Ms Davies said that the refusal of the CQC to back an investigation, and the false assurances given by its most senior figure, showed how it “never scratched beneath the surface” despite death after death.

Ms Davies said that she had “absolutely no faith” in its current ability to regulate and spot future scandals, saying it had “pushed back” every effort made by families to expose the failings at Shrewsbury.

“They are not fit for purpose because we cannot trust them to be doing their job properly,” she told The Telegraph.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Telegraph, 5 April 2022


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