Cynthia Bower – A Career

Anyone interested in the patient safety scandals that have hit the NHS in recent years, might want to take a few moments to chart the meteoric rise of Cynthia Bower.  She comes from the West Midlands SHA “stable”, as does David Nicholson. But what was her role in the Mid Staffs scandal and is she suitable to ensure such avoidable deaths don’t re-occur?


July 2006 – Cynthia takes up a position as the Chief Executive Officer of West Midlands SHA.

24 April 2007 – The Dr Foster mortality statistics are published.  Mid Staffs and several other West Midlands SHA hospitals have a big problem with death rates.  The recorded rates for hospital standardised mortality for Mid Staffs was 123.0.  What about other hospitals in the region?  Walsall Hospital was recorded at 118.9, Burton Hospitals at 122.0, Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospitals at 116.4, and George Eliot Hospital 129.0.

29 May  2007 -  Cynthia Bower calls a West Midlands SHA Board meeting and decides to commission an independent analysis from the University of Birmingham (costing £120,000).  The analysis would look at two conditions – fractured neck of femur and stroke – and analyse 100 sets of patient notes, put forward by each trust.

24 June 2008 – The University of Birmingham reports.  West Midlands SHA Board meet to reflect on the report and record the fact that “there was no reliable relationship between mortality and quality of care” [Internal Board minutes].  Nothing is done about Mid Staffs.

23 July 2008 -  Cynthia Bower is promoted to the top job, Chief Executive Officer of the quality regulator, the Healthcare Commission now the CQC.

16 March  2009 -  The Healthcare Commission [now CQC] report is published publicly, which reveals the appalling state of conditions in the hospital and the expected extra deaths of between 400 and 1200.

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3 Responses to Cynthia Bower – A Career

  1. Daphne Havercroft says:

    “it did feel like a bit living in an episode of “The Thick of It”"

    Former CQC Chair, Baroness Young, giving evidence to the Mid Staffs Public Inquiry about “slightly bizarre meetings” with the Chairman and the Chief Exec of the National Health Service and the Secretary of State.

    “there was no reliable relationship between mortality and quality of care” – bring on Malcolm Tucker to spin that little beauty.

  2. Amanda Harris says:

    I would be really interested to know how much public money has been spent over this lady’s career progression. Counting up any pay-offs, compensation to ex-employees (and the cost of highly trained health professionals no longer working in the NHS), analyses of limited and hand-picked data, and inquiries would, I imagine, run to millions of pounds. It seems extraordinary that a public servant can spend taxpayers money at will to keep themselves in a job. And she is, after all, just a public servant. How can one person be allowed to decide that they are worth so much money?

  3. William Stevenson says:

    This report is rather under-sensationalised. Things at CQC are considerably worse than this, and it is almost incomprehensible that Bower and sidekick Sherlock are still there- ‘almost’, because Bower has a close connection with Nicholson, NHS Chief Exec. Top brass at CQC gave some dodgy evidence at the Mid-Staffs. Inquiry, which was suspected of being ‘aspirational’ as opposed to true. They were shopped by an anonymous CQC employee, which set off an investigation by Inquiry solicitors and a couple of extra days of evidence from different CQC employees. I am expecting some serious criticism in the Francis Report in the new year- from the evidence under oath, not because I ‘know’ anything.
    That criticism would go along with that from the Parliamentary Health Select Committee which has now resulted in yet another investigation into the hopeless CQC management(remember Winterbourne View?) by the DoH.
    CQC is now in panic mode; having been criticised for shutting down its central investigation unit and drasically cutting back the number of investigations of hospitals and care homes, they are now running around frantically investigating anything that either moves or stands still, contradicting their own recent reports (see Furness General Hospital where CQC completely reversed a favourable report once a Coroner’s letter had drawn public attention to the trust) if they think they can gain some favourable headlines. They have even removed the evidence from the website, so that the reports are no longer available- too late, though! That’s the problem with operating the major health regulator by just reacting to what the BBC finds out- you might not be able to ‘fix’ everything in time.

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