Jill Finney, former deputy chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, and one of three senior figures accused of covering up a critical report looking into failings at Furness General hospital, has denied ordering the report to be deleted.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, she said that “there was not a decision at that meeting to delete a report nor was there an instruction”. Finney added that the initial report was “incomplete” because it concluded that the activity the CQC had undertaken was satisfactory, and so “required much further work” before being published. She insisted that the report had been brought to the attention of Grant Thornton when it was commissioned to carry out an external review.
Also speaking on the programme, Robert Francis QC, who authored the report into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire, said he had heard evidence of a "closed culture" at CQC, and noted "considerable echoes" with the events at Mid Staffordshire.
It has been alleged that media manager Anna Jefferson told an official that the report “can never be in the public domain, nor subject to a freedom of information request” – an allegation that she denies. Finney has also told Sky News that this comment was never made.
Cynthia Bower, the then CQC chief executive has also denied allegations that she attempted to cover up the report.
Tony Gallagher, editor of the Daily Telegraph, tweeted this on Friday: a letter from the CQC dated 2 May 2013 threatening libel action over claims a number of senior figures (including Finney) left the organisation because they were responsible for the failings and the subsequent cover up.
Here is the letter in which the CQC threatened us with libel and the PCC as recently as last month pic.twitter.com/J6QkDRMGfE— Tony Gallagher (@gallaghereditor) June 21, 2013
Meanwhile, two former health secretaries have been dragged into the affair, with Andrew Lansley denying claims made by the Sunday Times he threatened to sack a CQC whistleblower, and Andy Burnham denying claims he put pressure on the CQC to tone down criticism of hospitals ahead of the 2010 general election.