A beleaguered regulator set up to ensure standards in hospitals and care homes are met has not been making the grade itself, according to MPs.
In a scathing report they said the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was not earning the public's confidence and has been further undermined by other issues.
The health select committee said registration process failures and the handling of a whistleblowing board member have dented even further public assurance.
And despite "sustained criticism" the organisation has failed to define its core purpose, the committee added, and failed to communicate results of inspections.
The body, which inspects hospitals and care homes in England to ensure standards are being met, was created in 2008 and began operating in 2009.
A series of appalling neglect cases at care homes that had successfully registered with CQC showed that residents were unable to trust the results of inspections.
For example, the registration process "was not effective in ensuring that all essential standards were being met" at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
The maternity unit at one of the trust's hospitals - Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria - is now at the centre of a police investigation concerning a number of deaths.
The committee's report said: "It is failures such as those witnessed at Morecambe Bay which undermine public confidence in the CQC's essential standards."
It said public confidence was also weakened last year when CQC failed to address issues raised by whistleblowing board member Kay Sheldon.
The committee said it was "regrettable" that Ms Sheldon was forced at a public inquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to voice concerns about poor leadership and safety breaches.
Unison national officer Helga Pile said: "With the government creating a more fragmented NHS and cuts hitting social care hard, we need a strong regulator now more than ever before."
CQC chief executive David Behan added: "In our strategic review we consulted widely on a clear statement of our purpose and role. We have already begun to make some of these changes and will continue."
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