The chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, Cynthia Bower, has resigned.
She has announced her resignation on the same day the Department of Health has published the findings of its “performance and capability review” of the regulator.
The review found the CQC had made “considerable achievements” since it was established in 2009.
But it said the challenge of registering more than 21,000 providers had been “underestimated” by the CQC and the DH, and more could have done more to manage risks during the early years of the organisation’s operation.
The review also said the role of the CQC has “not been as clear as it needs to be to health and care providers, patients and the public”.
Ms Bower will remain in post until autumn 2012. The recruitment process for her successor will begin shortly.
In a statement, she said: “After almost four years leading CQC, I feel that it is now time to move on. The process of setting up an entirely new system of regulation has been intensely challenging - but we have accomplished an enormous amount. We have merged three organisations, registered 40,000 provider locations and brought virtually the entire health and social care network under one set of standards, which focus on the needs of people who use services.
“I am pleased that the Department of Health performance and capability review, published today, recognises the scale of what has been achieved - and in particular the significant improvements made over the last nine months. I’m confident that CQC will continue to build on the progress already made, delivering increasing benefits to people who use services by shining a light on poor care - and I am proud to have played a part in this.”
CQC chair Jo Williams said: “I am very sorry that Cynthia has decided to move on, but I understand her desire to take on new challenges. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for the enormous contribution she has made to the setting up and running of CQC.
“She has shown tireless commitment to this organisation, and she leaves it in a strong position to carry out our essential role in tackling poor care. This is confirmed by today’s performance review from the Department of Health, which recognises CQC’s ‘considerable achievements’ in setting the essential platform from which tougher regulatory action can be taken,” she added.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said: “I would like to thank Cynthia for her commitment as CQC chief executive. Building a new regulator involves great vision, leadership and resilience. This is always a complex task and one under constant scrutiny. It is great credit to Cynthia’s leadership to have achieved this.”
DH permanent secretary Una O’Brien, who has been carrying out the review, said: “”Cynthia has provided energetic leadership to the CQC from its very outset. Over her four years as chief executive, CQC has introduced - for the first time - a new model of regulation for health and social care. Cynthia is a committed public servant and I wish her well for the future.”