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CQC chief Cynthia Bower resigns

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.”

Readers' comments (34)

  • tinkerbell

    i too am pleased that cynthia has decided to move on and meet new 'challenges' as the challenge of this one certainly was not met and remains to be met. Lots of talk and very little action even when grave concerns were brought to CQC they didn't respond in a timely manner, if at all. Maybe it is only journalists who can do the job in undercover roles.

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  • I dont think the CQC does very much - cold calling inspections in every hospital and every home would certainly show the appauling elderly care in both establishments to be exactly what it is, non caring and get them out of beds ASAP especially in the Acute settings. CQC get your finger out and bring back care not a cattle market way of thinking.

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  • I seem to recall reading that the CQC has been accused of 'bullying its own senior staff' - it probably needs new people at the top.

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  • Ronald Luton-Brown

    still heavily over regulated and no bite when needed!

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  • I undertake clinical negligence work and comment on nursing and care for the Police and Coroners.
    On several occasions it has been clear that CQC were not identifying very poor care. The lack of inspection and the naive expectation that the home owner will fill in information about care standards accurately when their livliohood depends on it beggars belief.
    I contacted the CQC to offer some feed back for them on a few particularly grizzly cases where I and others had been very critical of the CQC.
    The first person I spoke to thought that was positive and would promote the "learning organisation approach", I was invited to write in.
    My letter was given to HR who wrote to me, getting my name wrong, and saying that if I wanted a job to apply in the usual way!
    I do hope that a new person will not continue to stifle the organisation and actively promote integrity and transparency into the regulation system which is failing so many vulnerable people.

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  • Ms B moves on!
    Leaving the rest of her organisation to continue to muddle on.
    The proposed quality assessment programme shelved.
    No progress plan in place for taking the organisation forward. Still needs to complete what it started in 2010 is this a good reference for her next job?

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  • there seem to be a lot of resignations from those in high places recently all around the world! it would be better maybe if they used their experience to improve rather than leaving their sinking ships. it seems to be an admission that they were wrong or not doing a satisfactory job.

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  • This woman was comprehensively "outed" by
    the Francis enquiry into the disgraceful
    events which occurred at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
    Serious doubts were expressed about her suitability for the post at the CQC.

    This is just another example of how "failure" brings substantial reward if you are a senior NHS manager. The practise of recycling these people is a disgrace but lets be thankful that on this occasion a resignation has occurred. However, let us not be surprised if it turns out that a substantial sum of money was offered to secure the departure Ms Bower

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  • On the topic of bonuses! Could we not suggest that the bonuses and golden handshakes currently awarded for failure to departing senior mgt, be given to the NHSLA for the additional costs of litigation that arise from their perpetuation and promotion of low standards of care.Also what about those in receipt of large payouts who get a job the following month. Should that money also be retrieved?

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  • Long over due. a fish rots from its head down. The CQC has long been fed what they want to hear when they do inspection, they are then taken and show the areas that has been sanitised. The moral of the tale for the CQC to be effective do unannounced inspection and you pick your cohort or sample areas do not be led like a lamb to the slaughter by the organisations you are inspecting.

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  • tinkerbell

    What foolishness that i thought doing a good job was where the reward was, when in fact it's making an absolute arse of it that gets you the reward, promotion and golden handshake. Whilst those of us on the frontline are punished with cuts, cuts and more cuts. Austerity, austerity, austerity until we groan under the strain of all the cuts that need to be made so that those above us can have the extra monies owed to us given to them in heaps and heaps. What about us having even less pay, less staff, more difficult working conditions, more redundancies, a higher rate of living expenses,less access to healthcare unless we're private, us plebs aren't suffering enough to try and save the economy? It's all our fault and we just didn't realise.

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  • Anonymous | 23-Feb-2012 11:35 am

    Sadly I'm not at all surprised by your experiences - the 'monitoring a feedback' behaviour for the NHS is pretty hopeless and ineffective !

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  • Anonymous | 23-Feb-2012 11:35 am

    Sorry, should read

    Sadly I'm not at all surprised by your experiences - the 'monitoring AND feedback' behaviour for the NHS is pretty hopeless and ineffective !

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  • Lot's of senior staff moving/ retiring on ill health. Nothing at all to do with the changes in senior government pensions that is due this year? Ha syour Chief Exec just resigned/ retired? Wonder what they are up to when not golfing/ exposing their left nipple down at the Masonic lodge? More than likely, they have set up a limited company ' consulting' the very organisations they have left behind. Corporate tax=28%, robber baron tax= 50%.

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  • Anonymous

    The CQC has not been doing an effective job, full stop. Not at all convinced any alterations, or replacement, will do the job it should, either !

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  • I'm a bit dim but ... | 25-Feb-2012 11:15 am

    I agree. I don't think a replacement will be any more effective. It needs a totally different and new approach. British institutions seem only to be any good at burying their heads in the sand instead of learning from their own past experiences and from other countries, apart from the USA, where systems work better. Neighbouring Europe would be a good start!

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  • My husband and I work as a partnership but still have to pay the exorbitant fees charged by the CQC in order to be able to work - we currently have to find £800 to pay them although we only really earn enough to live on. I wasn't impressed with the CQC from Day 1. They moved the registration deadline forward and then sent threatening e-mails every day stating that we'd be breaking the law if we didn't register on time. Once we were accepted and registered, we found we were losing work to other businesses that hadn't bothered to register and therefore didn't incur all the extra costs - and got away with it!

    Their initial questionnaire asked nothing about the care we provide or how we ensure our standards are maintained - it was purely about equal opportunities for ethnic minorities for the staff we don't have.

    The CQC is purely another money-making enterprise for the government that prefers to hound small partnerships like ours while allowing all sorts of abuse to continue to larger organisations.

    Fortunately for us, most of our paperwork was already in place, thanks to a previous business and for 2 of us working independently, we have a 300 page manual that's actually more suited to a much larger business because if we didn't register, we wouldn't have been allowed to continue to practice in our main field of event emergency cover, despite being registered nurses although the anomaly is that if he continued working in occupational health alone, my husband wouldn't have had to register!

    Sorry, but I have no faith in this organisation doing what people hope it will do.

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  • Why not use ISO Norms as in Europe. They seem to work and be foolproof and fair with no nonsense. European regs infiltrate most of our everyday lives so perhaps it would be better if the EU took over healthcare as well, the one area where it might actually be useful, and stop all this silly nonsense of employing organisations like the CQC which appears to be totally ineffective.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 25-Feb-2012 11:46 am

    The problem is partly that some problems do not really involve individual blame, in any way that individuals should be punished for. Like hitting yourself on the finger with a hammer, when you are knocking nails in - you don't really blame yourself for having done it, beyond thinking 'idiot !', but you try to do something different to avoid it happening again.

    That sort of honest mistake, needs to be learnt from - this is quite different from deliberate bad practice. But when you move from a person doing a bit of DIY, to a problem inside a large organisation such as a hospital, the staff tend to start from 'if there is a problem, I'm not taking the blame for it', everyone becomes very defensive instead of open in their responses, there are complaints systems put into place which make everything even slower and usually less effective, and the system simply does not learn.

    That isn't quite what happened in the headlining CQC problems - the answer to those, would have been to pay much more attention to what staff and patients or relatives were reporting to the CQC: but the culture change needs to be towards getting 'What do you think I/we did wrong ? - let's talk about it' into the culture, at the level of the problems, and when the issue is raised. By the time complaints actually reach the CQC, or PHSO, they are often so 'cold' that it is very difficult to be sure what did actually happen.

    But the CQC was trying to insert gagging clauses onto some of its own employees - hardly consistent with rooting out bad practice elsewhere !

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  • tinkerbell

    I'm a bit dim but ... | 26-Feb-2012 12:38 pm

    But the CQC was trying to insert gagging clauses onto some of its own employees - hardly consistent with rooting out bad practice elsewhere !


    W H A T? Really? Just when i thought i couldn't get anymore cynical. Heaven help us all.

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