The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Health regulator promises more thorough hospital inspections

CQC will send in bigger teams led by clinicians and inspections will take longer

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced major changes to the way it inspects hospitals in the wake of the publication of a review this week by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh which revealed that its processes had failed to pick up significant problems at 14 hospitals with higher than expected death rates.

The Care Quality Commission will recruit an army of practising and retired clinicians, plus patients and carers to help with inspections as part of the changes.

The CQC will use a surveillance tool which will bring together data on around 150 types of measure across five domains – safety, effectiveness, caring, responsiveness and whether the trust is well led – to generate a risk score and highlight any areas of concern.

Inspection teams of at least 15 people and headed by a senior clinician will then visit trusts for at least two days. Core services such as A&E, maternity, paediatrics, acute medical and surgical pathways, care for the frail elderly, end of life care and outpatients will always be inspected.

Trusts will be given notice to enable them to ensure that any required paperwork and key staff members are available to the inspection team, and organise staff focus groups, but the teams will also undertake unannounced inspections of services of concern, sometimes out of hours. Patients and the public will have an opportunity to outline their views at town hall meetings.

The changes will be implemented by the end of August and all 161 acute hospitals will be inspected by 2015.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “As Chief Inspector of Hospitals, I need to know and to be completely open about where good and bad care is being delivered. That is why I am publishing my first wave of inspections today. There is too much variation in the quality of care patients receive - poor hospitals will need to up their game and learn from the best. I will not tolerate poor or mediocre care".

"These new-style inspections will allow us to get a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than has ever been possible before in England."

Eighteen trusts representing the variation of care in hospitals in England will be inspected in the first wave over the next five months – six received of these received a high risk rating from the surveillance tool, six a low rating and the remaining were in between.

The six trusts with a high risk rating to be inspected are: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, South London Healthcare NHS Trust, and The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The six with a low rating are: Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The other six are: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470