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CQC settlement cost taxpayers £770,000

CQC settlement cost taxpayers £770,000

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The true cost of a recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) settlement is more than twelve times the damages awarded.

It was revealed, at a Health Select Committee hearing, that the £60,000 damages awarded to the former CQC deputy chief executive, Jill Finney, cost the public purse £770,000.

Finney originally made a claim against the CQC in January 2014 for £1.5m following the publication of  a report investigating the regulatory oversight of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay. It was alleged she was involved in covering up failings in the CQC inspection process.

She was not informed that her name would be in the public domain until after the documents had been published and believed that the contents of the report were defamatory.

Although she was awarded £60,000 in damages, the CQC also paid £510,000 (40%) of Finney’s legal costs as well as £200,000 of their own.

Speaking at the Health Select Committee David Prior, chairman of the CQC, said: “We would have been better in hindsight – if we were doing it again – to get a lawyer to do that kind of investigation in public and allowing everyone who is called to have their own representation.

“It would have been better – more expensive – but better to have done the whole thing in public.”

However, he did highlight that the CQC was in a unique situation.

He said: “We invited Grant Thornton to do a report regarding the whole issue around the Morecambe Bay inspection investigation and we committed ourselves to publishing that report unseen by us. If we’d seen it then we would have been accused of not being independent.

“Had we interfered with the way it had been done, we would have been accused of interfering with the investigation. By not interfering we had no control over how it was done and how people were treated in the process. It could have been done in public by a senior judge or some-one of that ilk.”

He concluded that there were no other on-going defamation cases regarding the CQC.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health Committee’s accountability hearing with the CQC, commented that this came as a “huge cost to those who are not only tax payers but also contribute fees to the CQC”.

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