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Blowing the whistle: an investigation into the Care Quality Commission’s regulation of the Fit and Proper Persons Requirement

Background

In January 2014 an Employment Tribunal found that the Chief Executive’s previous Trust (Trust J) had subjected Ms K and her colleague to reprisals after she raised a genuine concern about serious misconduct by the Chief Executive.

The Employment Tribunal found that the Chief Executive breached the code of conduct for NHS managers and the Trust’s recruitment and selection policy. It also criticised the Trust’s internal investigation report into Ms K’s allegations.

It concluded that Trust J prevented Ms K from returning to her job – the Chief Executive wanted to withdraw an offer of employment unless Ms K stopped her Employment Tribunal proceedings. 

Following the Employment Tribunal findings, the Chief Executive was suspended from Trust J in February 2014 and resigned in May 2014. 

In August 2014, the Clinical Commissioning Group for Trust J made a complaint to the Professional Regulator that the Chief Executive’s fitness to practice was impaired due to misconduct. The Professional Regulator’s report concluded that no regulatory action was to be taken against the Chief Executive by them. 

The Chief Executive was then employed by Trust P as ‘interim Chief Operating Officer’ in October 2015. 

A third-party referred this issue to the CQC in October 2015, asking the CQC to review FPPR in relation to the Chief Executive in light of the Employment Tribunal. 

In February 2016, the CQC concluded that there was no breach of FPPR as the information Trust P had provided was sufficient, and they closed the referral. 

At the end of April 2016, the Chief Executive was promoted to ‘interim Chief Executive’ at Trust P. 

Two weeks later, in May 2016, the Chief Executive was suspended from Trust P following separate allegations of financial fraud when working at Trust J. The CQC was not aware of these allegations at this time. 

Ms K complained to the CQC in February 2017 to express her concern about the CQC accepting assurances from Trust P about employing the Chief Executive. 

Ms K referred her complaint to us in January 2018, which we accepted for investigation. 

In January 2018, after consultation, the CQC updated its guidance on FPPR.