The day the police came for the man who now runs the Care Commission
David Prior, the new chairman of the Care Quality Commission, spoke with great eloquence on the Today programme about the folly of sending teams into investigate an organisation as complex as a hospital who do not have the necessary professional background. He did not mention his own painful experience of what can happen when investigators are operating beyond the limits of their expertise.
In 2006, the police were called in to investigate an allegation of fraud at Cawston Park, an independently psychiatric hospital in Norfolk, of which Mr Prior was non-executive chairman. The Norfolk Constabulary did not have a fraud squad, so the case was handled by detectives whose normal job was to investigate murders. Reportedly, none had ever handled a fraud case.
What they lacked in relevance experience, they made up for in enthusiasm. The swept up a number of suspects in a dramatic series of dawn raids. Mr Prior’s arrest caused a sensation because he was so well known in Norfolk, as a former Tory MP and son of the former Cabinet minister, Jim Prior. “I was arrested in the early hours of the morning, had my house searched, was questioned and held in a police cell, saw my reputation traduced in the local and national media without any opportunity to rebut the false allegations and then had to wait three months for a resolution,” he later told the BBC. In the end, the entire case collapsed, and Mr Prior returned to his post as head of Norfolk’s main hospital trust.
No wonder he is fussed about whether investigators have the right background to know what they are investigating.
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