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?
CYNTHIA BOWER’S METEORIC RISE
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.