12/20/13, "NHS 'was too powerful to criticise' says regulator," BBC
"The NHS "became too powerful to criticise" despite many patients receiving a "wholly unsatisfactory" service, the health regulator has said.
The Care Quality Commission chairman said the NHS should not be treated as a "national religion" beyond criticism.
He said the health service was becoming more honest about failings, which made it more likely they would be addressed.
Mr Prior warned that the service's perceived status had left some areas of care "out of control" because honesty about failings was not tolerated.
Mr Prior said: "It became too powerful to criticise. When things were going wrong people didn't say anything. If you criticised the NHS - the attitude was 'how dare you?'
"No organisation should be put on such a high pedestal that it is beyond criticism. Now it is getting more honest about our failings - which I think makes it more likely that we will address them."
Mr Prior said the emergency care system should be a priority for change and it was "wholly unsatisfactory" that so many patients struggled to get an appointment with their GP.
He said: "Their opening times have to be geared around the patients...."Working people need to be able to see their GP in the evening or at the weekend."
Mr Prior described a "chillingly defensive" culture in which even the most "alpha-male surgeons" felt frightened to speak out for fear of ending their careers.
"I had not realised that the culture in some of our hospitals was so damaged. That was an awakening," he said.
"When you are compared to a national religion, that is the problem," he said in reference to a description of the NHS by Lord Lawson....
Mr Prior also said it was "crazy" for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to be telephoning round hospital chief executives who had missed A&E targets. "There is an obsession. It's crazy to have a secretary of state doing that," he said.
"Of course he's doing it, because he's held accountable but what it all leads to is more money being put into A&E departments when that money should probably be put into primary and community care to stop people falling ill.""
12/11/13, "'Maggot-infested' GP surgeries exposed by inspectors," BBC, By Nick Triggle
"Inspectors have exposed a catalogue of failings at some GP practices in England, with drugs stored incorrectly and rooms so dirty they had maggots."...
NHS watchdog CQC hid negative findings:
6/19/13, "NHS watchdog cover-up: Jeremy Hunt says 'whole truth' must come out," UK Guardian, Haroon Siddique and agencies
"Consultants from Grant Thornton were commissioned to look into the CQC's activities in relation to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, which faces more than 30 compensation claims over deaths of, or injuries to, mothers and babies up to 2010.
David Prior, who took over as CQC chair in January, was blunt in his assessment of the findings, describing the report as damning and the watchdog's management at the time as totally dysfunctional.
"I am desperately sorry that this has happened," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We were not set up then, we are not set up now to investigate hospitals.
"Our job is to investigate hospitals and we were not doing it … The fact is we have been in the position for a long time now of giving assurances to the public that we didn't back up by expert inspection.
"I've known for the past three months we were not fit for purpose when it came to hospital inspections.""...