CQC head admits mistakes

The chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, Cynthia Bower, has admitted in an article for Health Service Journal she underestimated the “turmoil” that would be involved in setting up the regulator and admitted that she should have decided to “wave a flag” for outside help rather than carrying on trying to do an “impossible job”.

Cynthia Bower also hit back at critics for failing to take into account how “challenging” the CQC’s creation had been. Responding to attacks on her leadership, she said she did not “mind people thinking I’m incompetent”, but objected to claims she was “only interested in a large pension”.

Ms Bower’s comments came at the HSJ leadership forum during a remarkably frank discussion about the very public, often personal, criticism she has faced as head of the regulator during the past year.

Asked what she thought were fair and unfair criticisms, Ms Bower said the response to the CQC’s failure to act on a tip off about the abuse of residents at Winterbourne View care home was the “most fair” because “we did miss something”.

She added: “It was slightly galling that other people had missed it as well, including the commissioners and the provider themselves, and we caught it in the neck. But you know when the public have an expectation that we were there following up information and we didn’t [do so], well then that’s fair.

“Why should the press be interested in how hard it’s been to set it up? They shouldn’t, but it’s that failure to see the context and how challenging it is that’s really hard to take.”

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