Hospital inspection plansThe CQC's new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is introducing radical changes to the way hospitals in England are inspected. Following on from the review carried out by Bruce Keogh, the changes will be introduced by the end of next month. 

Richards says he will lead significantly bigger inspection teams headed up by clinical and other experts that include trained members of the public. They will spend longer inspecting hospitals and cover every site that delivers acute services and eight key services areas:

  • A&E;
  • Maternity
  • paediatrics;
  • acute medical and surgical pathways;
  • care for the frail elderly;
  • end of life care;
  • and outpatients.

The inspections will be a mixture of unannounced and announced and they will include inspections in the evenings and weekends when people often experience poor care.
Each inspection will provide the public with a clear picture of the quality of care in their local hospital, exposing poor and mediocre care and highlighting the many hospitals providing good and excellent care.

Sir Mike will decide whether hospitals are to be rated as outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. Where there are failures in care, Richards will work with NHS England, Monitor, and the NHS Trust Development Authority to make sure a clear programme is put in place to deal with the problems.
Richards 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. Inspections will be supported by an improved method for identifying risks and with much more information direct from patients and their families, and hospital staff.

Richards has identified 18 NHS trusts representing the variation of care in hospitals in England. These will be the first hospitals to test the new inspection regime. This work will be carried out during the next five months. The first 18 NHS trusts to be inspected represent the variation in hospital care.  For at least three of the trusts the Chief Inspector will provide a 'shadow' rating.

By the end of 2015 CQC will have inspected all acute hospitals. The variety of trusts selected will help to test CQC's inspection model, which will be developed and refined this year, following our consultation.

It will also help us to develop the new ratings scheme for hospitals. For hospitals not covered by the new approach, we will complete our inspection programme for 2013-14, focussing on one or a small number of specific services with the hospital that we think are most in need of inspection.