An internal review of an inspection conducted by health watchdog The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was purportedly deleted by the company after the review exposed the watchdog’s failure to recognize staff negligence during an inspection of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust. The CQC conducted an inspection in 2008 after concerns were expressed over procedures by hospital staff at the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital at Morecambe Bay in Cumbria, England. The hospital was given the green light by the health watchdog following the inspection.

However, since the inspection, the maternity unit at Furness has received at least 30 claims of patient neglect and death due to alleged staff negligence. The case of newborn Joshua, whose father, James Titcombe, claims died at just nine days old after hospital staff failed to spot an infection, sparked an investigation into the maternity ward’s procedures, which then led to the CQC’s internal review of the 2008 inspection.

Grant Thornton, a management consultant commissioned to investigate the CQC after the negligent claims surfaced against Furness, completed an independent report which revealed that a senior manager of CQC ordered an official in March of last year to destroy the internal review because it was potentially “damaging to the watchdog.” Thornton’s report asserted that CQC was more concerned about protecting its reputation than for patient safety when they ordered the document to be destroyed to conceal their oversight of Furness’ shoddy procedures.

According to The Guardian, a conversation noted in Thornton’s report of dialogue between CQC officials concerning the handling of the internal review asserted that CQC did in fact want to conceal the findings . “Are you kidding me? This can never be in a public domain nor subject to FOI [freedom of information request]. Read my lips,” a CQC senior manager was quoted as saying in reference to the internal review’s data.

A non-executive director for the CQC also claims that she made repeated warnings concerning the negligence being displayed in the maternity unit at Furness and that her concerns were “ignored at every level” of the CQC and the Department of Health. Sheldon claims she “followed the process to a T” before deciding to come forward as a whistleblower to The Telegraph, in which she revealed her concerns publicly and blasted the CQC for failing to spot poor patient treatment during its inspection of Furness. She claims the company interrogated her and even questioned her mental health after she mentioned the CQC’s failings during the inspection to senior managers.

“I should have been listened to at every stage and I should not have had to go to the lengths I had to. I was subjected to the most appalling treatment and that should shame the organization and higher,” Sheldon said to the newspaper. “I haven’t yet had an apology [from CQC].”


Krysta is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.