Health chief is defiant in Stafford Hospital probe

The head of a Midlands health authority that missed vital clues to appalling levels of care at Stafford Hospital remained defiant today.

Stafford Hospital sign

The head of a Midlands health authority that missed vital clues to appalling levels of care at Stafford Hospital remained defiant today.

Cynthia Bower, who was chief executive of West Midlands Strategic Heath Authority from 2006 to 2008, told the public inquiry into the facility that she did not accept the organisation had failed to "put the pieces together."

She said she did not accept the SHA could have been more thorough.

Mrs Bower, who is now head of NHS watchdog The Care Quality Commission, said: "I am deeply sorry for what happened at Mid Staffs Hospital and for the fact  that we had oversight of the NHS in the region at that time and we did not pick up the failures in care that obviously were occurring at that time."

She said the SHA made judgments at the time as a small organisation that had gone through a major reorganisation and disruption.

Counsel to the inquiry Ben Fitzgerald asked her: "So you accept there was a serious failure of your organisation to put these signs together and realise that there were real problems at this trust prior to 2009?"

Mrs Bower replied: "I accept there were some issues we lost track of  that would have generated more concern but I don't accept there were serious failings to put the pieces together."