Compassion in the NHS is “alive and well”, according to England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, in a robust defence of the service’s values and effectiveness.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the man designated England’s “whistleblower in chief”, said that his first wave of inspections had left him struck by the “good, excellent, even outstanding care” received by thousands of patients, despite a year of inquiries into underperforming hospitals and negative media reports.
While variations in the quality of NHS hospital care still exist, the head of the Care Quality Commission said his first months in the job had shown him common instances of “fantastic care” that deserved to be highlighted as well.
Sir Mike said previous inquiries “had to look at the hospitals with high mortality, and perhaps not surprisingly large numbers of them were found to have quite significant problems”, but that he was now looking at all hospitals and was uncovering plenty of good examples to go with the bad.
“We have continued to look at high-risk trusts, but have deliberately in our pilot programme looked across the spectrum. What we can now say is that there are some very good hospitals in this country and it is possible, within the NHS, to receive good, excellent, even outstanding care.”
Sir Mike, who is the first person to hold his position, was appointed last summer after pressure to reform the way hospitals are monitored led to an overhaul at the health-service regulator the Care Quality Commission.