FORTY health watchdogs have descended on Morecambe Bay to begin a two-weeks cycle of inspections.

The team from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will carry out both announced and unannouced visits to hospital departments at all times of day and night as part of a wave of inspections of trusts across the country.

“This is the biggest case of free consultancy you can get in the NHS so that’s how I think we should view it,” said University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS trust chief executive Jackie Daniel at a trust board meeting .

“I’m pleased with the preparation we’ve done.”

On Tuesday a ‘listening event’ was held in Kendal for local people to share their views about the trust with the regulator.

The trust is one of 19 being visited by the CQC during the second wave of its new ‘national hospital inspection’ programme, which will see all NHS acute trusts inspected by December, 2015.

The Morecambe Bay trust was chosen after health watchdogs identified it as having an ‘intermediate risk’ using an intelligent monitoring tool, which helps them prioritise where to investigate.

Last year Ms Daniel admitted the visits would be ‘anxiety provoking’.

“We are on a journey in our trust; currently we are a middling per-former overall but with aspirations to keep moving forward.

“We think we are doing the right things, choosing the right priorities and operating in the right way but we are open to learning how.

“Managed correctly, the findings of the visit will help us to support our trust to become even better.”

Meanwhile, an ‘immediate review’ is to be undertaken by the Nursing and Midwifery Council following a damning report into practices at Furness General Hospital.

The regulator has announced that it will carry out the investigation to ‘improve public protection’ after a Parliamemtary and Health Service Ombudsman found nobody spotted serious errors which led the deaths of three babies and a mother.

Dame Julie Mellor, who investigated the deaths, said: “The families who complained to us could not mourn the loss of their loved ones properly because of the unanswered questions they had about the care provided during the births of their children.”