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Hospitals face spot checks by regulators

Hundreds more hospitals and care homes will face unannounced inspections by regulators in an attempt to tackle poor performance, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will announce today.

It follows publication of 100 unannounced hospital checks by the Care Quality Commission that identified serious concerns in one in five visits about elderly patients' treatment.

Mr Lansley will announce another 700 spot checks expected to target around 500 elderly care homes, 150 learning disability centres and 50 hospitals.

In an attempt to regain the initiative after months of negative publicity over the controversial Health Bill, the minister is also expected to outline plans to lend hundreds of millions of pounds to around 50 health trusts with historic debts.

This will allow them to gain Foundation Status and compete competitively with other providers when GPs start commissioning services from next year.

But the hospitals – some with large PFI commitments – will have to draw up a plan to manage within their resources and show they are delivering annual productivity savings to be eligible for the funds.