A BODY that looks after health services in Knutsford has come under fire for offering a high-profile position to the former chair of the Care Quality Commission Dame Jo Williams – and then making a U-turn on the decision.
Caring Together is an alliance of health and social care providers from across eastern Cheshire, working to deliver a new system of care services in the region.
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on May 14, it was revealed that the council had not been involved in the decision to appoint Dame Jo Williams as chair of the East Cheshire Caring Together Executive Board.
Concern was expressed that Dame Jo’s appointment could undermine public confidence in the Caring Together and a number of Cheshire East Councillors spoke out in protest.
At the time, Clr Laura Jeuda said she was ‘dismayed’ to hear of the appointment.
“This appointment, made without even informing the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, suggests that working together is not happening in Cheshire East,” she added.
Caring Together made a U-turn just one day after the council meeting in question and announced Dame Jo would not take up the role of its Independent Chairman as originally envisaged.
However, questions remain about the initial appointment including, who was involved in the decision to offer the position to Dame Jo, when was Cheshire East Council was informed and why wasn’t the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee informed.
Cheshire East Clr Ken Edwards said: “It is vital that the Chair of the Caring Together board’s record is above the reproach in relation to protecting the quality of care for vulnerable people in Cheshire East.
“I hope that the appointment process to find a new chair will be carried out in an open and inclusive manner.”
Dame Jo was the chair of the Care Quality Commission until she resigned in 2012. During her tenure there were well-publicised failings at the CQC.
She also had to apologise after making public comments on the mental health of a fellow CQC board member who had blown the whistle over Mids Staffs Hospital.
ON May 15, a Caring Together spokesperson announced Dame Jo Williams and the Caring Together Executive Board have together decided that she will not take up the role of its Independent Chairman.
The spokesperson added: “Dame Jo was selected as independent chair of the Caring Together programme because of her expertise and experience.
“Following an exhaustive selection process she was clearly the best candidate.
“Dame Jo resigned from the Care Quality Commission at a time of her choosing and her work standing up for patients’ and carers’ rights has always been subject to the highest praise.
“These qualities were exactly what we hoped she would bring to bear in the role as Caring Together’s independent chair.
“The Caring Together Board has made clear its appreciation of the time and interest that Dame Jo has committed so far to the programme.
“The Caring Together programme’s work will be unaffected as we work together with the people of Eastern Cheshire to seize the opportunity for better health and care.”