Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Cover-up names to be published

Concerns about the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria came to light in 2008

The names of "certain individuals" currently kept anonymous in the row over a spate of baby deaths in Cumbria will be published later, Health Minister Earl Howe has disclosed.

He told the Lords that ministers had challenged the Care Quality Commission (CQC) decision to withhold the names in a cover-up of an internal review which criticised its inspections of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, where a number of mothers and babies died.

Challenged by Labour, he said: "My understanding is that the CQC will later today publish the names of certain individuals currently anonymised in the report."

He denied that Department of Health officials had seen the report.

The independent report found that a senior manager ordered the review to be destroyed because it was "potentially damaging to the CQC's reputation".

The health watchdog has been widely criticised for withholding the name of the manager who made the order, claiming it did not publish it because doing so could breach the Data Protection Act. The data watchdog has warned against hiding behind the Act to keep information out of the public domain.

Lord Howe, repeating a statement made to MPs on Wednesday, again apologised on behalf of the Government for the cover-up. He said it was completely unacceptable that a culture of "defensiveness and secrecy" had been put ahead of patient care.

The CQC had failed in its fundamental duty to act as a champion for patients, expose poor care and act to correct it. But the leadership had now been "completely overhauled" making it a different organisation.

Lord Howe said the report of a cover-up was "very deeply worrying" and set out conclusions about CQC's previous leadership that were "very shocking". The new leadership had commissioned and published the report to make sure events of the past were exposed and lessons learned.

"I'm very pleased the CQC will now be overseeing the production of a report in the next two months to provide assurance that any cover-up has been fully exposed and stopped - and mistakes made ... are being put right."

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