New CQC Chairman is former Tory MP

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 The Government’s preferred candidate for the role of Chairman of the Care Quality Commission was a Conservative MP from 1997 to 2001.

David Prior lost the North Norfolk seat to Lib Dem candidate Norman Lamb, who is now a Health Minister.

However, Prior – whose father, Jim Prior, was a Tory Cabinet Minister – has promised that the CQC will be “completely independent”.

He identified his main priority as early intervention where care is failing: “A key role for the CQC is to spot difficulties very early so that we never have a Mid-Staffs type situation or a Winterbourne View happening again.

“From a regulator’s point of view, it is very important to act extremely promptly and have the risk analysis available and up to date all the time, so you can head some of these things off at the pass.”

A qualified barrister, Prior has also worked in the steel industry and is Chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust.

Speaking to the parliamentary health select committee, Prior said that CQC inspectors needed to be mindful that NHS and social care organisations had to meet both clinical and financial priorities.

“We can do an inspection on a Monday and find that the care given in a care home is terrific, but then they go bust on a Tuesday,” he commented.

“If you go back to the predecessor organisations of the CQC, they were focused more on governance, structures, and leadership and less on outcomes. I think you’ve got to do both.”

Using more specialist inspectors rather than generalist ones might be part of the solution, he argued.