Patients attack plan to reduce inspections of
best hospitals

Families of those who died in the Mid Staffs scandal fear the new regime might not pick up poor care

Patient groups tonight attacked plans to radically scale back inspections of hospitals believed to be performing well. Under proposals being put forward by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the top 20 per cent of hospitals might only be inspected every five years.

Groups representing the families of patients who died at Mid Staffordshire said the new regime might not pick up on deteriorating standards at previously well-run hospitals.

They said they feared it could inadvertently lead to another situation where problems could be covered up by hospital managements in institutions which were not being regularly inspected. At the time of the scandal Mid Staffordshire was officially one of the best performing trusts in the country.

In an interview with Health Service Journal, the new chair of the CQC David Prior said its current model was “fundamentally flawed”, leaving “our inspectors [doing] a bloody good job in difficult circumstances”. He added: “We are not in a position, at the moment, to really assess the safety and quality performance of hospitals.”

However, he believed they now had enough information coming to them from hospitals to identify risk, and that there were around 50 or 60 struggling hospitals in England that would be subject to a new intensive form of monitoring.

Inspections of hospitals will double in length – lasting between six and nine days and almost always include a patient representative in the form of an “expert by experience”.

New “deep dive” teams will be set up under the control of a new Chief Inspector of Hospitals. These would have about five permanent members of staff but would draft in experienced clinicians and senior NHS managers on secondment to assist them, probably for a few days at a time.

Mr Prior said the national teams would focus on the bottom 10 to 20 per cent of hospitals, which would receive “a lot of attention”. By contrast, he said that around 20 per cent of hospitals were “excellent” and would only be inspected once every five years unless their circumstances changed. A further 40 per cent classed as “good” would “probably” not be inspected “more than once every three years”, he added.

The plans were immediately attacked by patient groups. Julie Bailey, the head of Cure the NHS, said: “What we know about hospitals is that they are prone to ‘gaming’ the system and only providing the data that shows that they are performing. What really disturbs me about this is that the CQC is going to be entirely reliant upon information provided by hospitals without actually going in to see what is happening for themselves.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, added: “While focusing on the bottom 10 to 20 per cent of NHS hospitals is understandable, reduced and less frequent inspections for top hospitals is a concern. Patients who use those hospitals will want to know what monitoring will be put in place so that standards do not slip.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there