CQC - serious questions for Lansley on inspections - Burnham

5 April 2012

Andy BurnhamAndy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the comments by the CQC on Andrew Lansley's call for extra inspections, said:

"It is clear that there was a case for the practices of some clinics to be referred to the regulator. But way in which this was handled by the Health Secretary was highly irregular and leaves the clear impression that he was chasing headlines, rather than following proper procedures. Such unusual actions from a Health Secretary pose serious questions for him to answer.

"First, Andrew Lansley must explain why he considered it a proportionate response to order immediate unannounced and urgent checks of all establishments. This action forced an already over-stretched regulator to disrupt its existing work programme, cancelling hundreds of inspections of hospitals and care homes.

"Second, Mr Lansley should today publish the advice he received from civil servants on this matter. Were his actions in response to official advice or was this a personal initiative? We need to know whether civil servants thought these actions were justified and whether Mr Lansley was specifically warned about the disruptive effect it could have on the CQC.

"Third, the Health Secretary should explain why, just four days after ordering this inspection programme and before it was complete, he briefed a newspaper about emerging findings. This was in advance of any formal report from the CQC and any statement to Parliament. It has given rise to serious concerns that the Health Secretary acted inappropriately and undermined the very investigation he had ordered.

"These revelations today raise yet more questions about Mr Lansley's judgement, the way he is running his Department and his relationship with the independent regulator. He owes people full answers if they are to be able to have any confidence in him as Health Secretary."