A leading official at a health watchdog has admitted to a public inquiry that the standards used to assess Stafford Hospital were “imperfect.”
The inquiry into the scandal of poor care at the hospital heard evidence from Robert Cleary, the former head of standards-based assessment at the Healthcare Commission until 2007. Mr Cleary developed the system used by the HCC to check standards at NHS trusts but he admitted during evidence at the inquiry yesterday they were open to abuse.
During this period hospitals were expected to self-declare whether or not they were meeting the standards set down by the HCC.
While the watchdog checked some trusts it relied on the honesty of hospital managers to say whether they were complying with the standards or not, he told the Francis Inquiry.
Stafford Hospital claimed it was compliant and at one point it was provisionally rated good. But an investigation by the HCC in 2008 found appalling levels of care at the trust which could have caused hundreds of unnecessary deaths.
Mr Cleary told chairman Robert Francis QC the standards “were certainly imperfect”. He accepted the way the standards were written could allow some hospitals to play the system.
Counsel to the inquiry Mr Ben Fitzgerald said the HCC had “assumed” hospitals had the proper processes in place to make sure the standards needed were present and the watchdog was unable to properly check whether that was the case.
My comment: Most watchdogs rely on the bodies they are watching to tell them the truth just as the government relies on watchdogs to tell them the truth in their annual reports.
The government need to get real, when scrutiny is none existant people and organisations manipulate the system, that's why we have scandals like the Stafford NHS, Baby P and MP's expenses. We need proper scrutiny of public bodies and that includes all our failing watchdogs.
In addition the government need to giving those in charge of failing public bodies a job as a watchdog.
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