All NHS trusts will have an ‘Ofsted-style’ rating by the end of 2015 under new hospital inspection plans announced by the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC’s new chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, is introducing significant changes to the way hospitals in England are inspected.
Starting next month, inspection teams will be headed up by clinicians and include trained members of the public.
Trusts will be rated as either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. All hospitals will have been inspected and rated by the end of 2015.
Sir Mike’s announcement was trailed by the government earlier this summer, in its initial response to the second of Robert Francis QC’s reports on Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
But it also follows a review of 14 trusts with high mortality rates carried out by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and released this week.
The new inspection regime will embed methods used by Sir Bruce’s review, which brought together a massive datapack, including information from the ombudsman and regulators such as the General Medical Council.
Sir Mike said significantly bigger inspection teams will spend longer inspecting hospitals and will cover every site that delivers acute services.
The reviews will look at eight key service areas: A&E; maternity, paediatrics; acute medical and surgical pathways; care for the frail elderly; end of life care; and outpatients.
As we as an overall rating, trusts will receive ratings for different departments.
“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,” he said.
"The inspections will be a mixture of unannounced and announced and they will include inspections in the evenings and weekends when we know people can experience poor care.”
Sir Mike has identified 18 NHS trusts with variation in care that will be inspected under the new regime over the next five months. The results of all inspections will be published and at least three trusts will be given a ‘shadow’ rating.
The CQC launched a consultation on introducing ‘Ofsted-style’ ratings for trusts and hospitals in June.
The Nuffield Trust, which was asked by Hunt to investigate whether the Ofsted-style report system should be introduced to the NHS, expressed extreme caution about the idea.
A list of the initial 18 trusts is on the CQC website.