Hospital inspections to be more robust, chief inspector says

 

Prof Sir Mike Richards: "We are taking on where Sir Bruce Keogh's report left off"

Related Stories

The way hospital inspections in England have been carried out was flawed and they are to become broader and more robust, the new chief inspector says.

Prof Sir Mike Richards said the system used by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had been too narrow in focus.

He wants to recruit a "small army" of doctors, nurses, patients and carers to carry out inspections and ratings.

It comes as 11 trusts have been put into special measures after previously unidentified failings were uncovered.

The move was announced on Tuesday after the publication of an independent review led by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

An investigation into 14 hospital trusts was launched earlier this year following the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal, which said the public had been betrayed by a system which put "corporate self-interest" ahead of patients.

The trusts were identified as they had the highest death rates in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

The probe focused on whether the figures indicated sustained failings in the quality of care and treatment at the trusts.

Only two of the 11 trusts that ended up in special measures had been facing sanctions from the CQC.

'Fair and transparent'

Setting out his plans, Sir Mike, who formally took up his post this week, said it would be a "completely different way of inspecting hospitals".

Start Quote

Every finding will be made public”

End Quote Prof Sir Mike Richards Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Admitting it would be a "huge challenge", he said the previous "flawed" system, which involved carrying out themed inspections on issues such as nutrition and infection control, would be replaced by one that ranked each unit of a hospital - but also looked at the organisation in its entirety.

He said the changes were based on the methods adopted by the Keogh review, which he was invited to take part in.

Sir Mike said the size of the CQC inspection teams would be increased to more than 20 - they have traditionally involved about five people - to reflect the greater scope of the reviews.

Hospital inspection

Old system New system

Inspections focussed on themes rather than looking at whole hospital. Meant sites inspected for individual issues such as nutrition and dignity.

Inspectors will now spend at least two days looking at the whole hospital, with a special focus on key services such as A&E.

Inspections resulted in hospital either meeting or failing 16 essential standards.

School-style ratings of "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and "inadequate".

Inspection teams limited to four or five people, often not specialists in care.

Practising doctors and nurses invited on to panels along with patients to create 20-strong teams.

Regulator uses 1,200 indicators to identify which trusts need repeat inspections.

Indicators trimmed to about 150 to give more weight to key measures such as surveys and death rates.

They will be made up of patients, doctors, nurses and other professionals - including those with inspection experience - to ensure they had greater breadth of knowledge.

He told BBC Breakfast: "We will have large teams who will go into a hospital and look to see whether it is safe, is it effective, is it caring, is it responsive to patients' needs and is it well-led.

"Then we can form a complete diagnosis of what is happening in that hospital.

"We want people who are really committed to finding out what is going on in the NHS in order to make it better."

'Robust, fair, transparent'

Under the new regime, hospitals will also get school-style ratings of "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" or "inadequate" - something that has already been announced by ministers.

Sir Mike said those deemed inadequate could also face being put into special measures, which involves teams of external experts being brought in to ensure changes take place.

Would you volunteer as a hospital inspector?

In order to further widen the range of views taken in by the inspection, public listening events would take place during major inspections for people to relate their experiences, good or bad, of the hospital.

And he said the CQC would be paying close attention to death rates, as well as other triggers such as patient surveys, mistakes and infection rates to see which trusts should be prioritised for inspection.

The new process would be "robust, fair and transparent", he said. "Every finding will be made public."

The first wave of 18 inspections is due to start in the next month, with the aim of inspecting all 161 trusts by December 2015.

Funding of £25m for the new initiative will come from extra money announced for the CQC by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in April.

But the British Medical Association and Medical Protection Society have warned in a letter to Mr Hunt that Sir Mike must allow the inspector to be "independent of politics".

Dr Stephanie Bown,of the MPS, said: "It is clear there are a number of challenges facing the chief inspector, but there are also a number of opportunities.

"With political independence and autonomy, we believe the inspector can play a crucial part in improving the culture and standards of care in hospitals."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 376.

    non of this will work if the Hospital/Nursing Home etc has notification about the inspection and the Days it will take place, I have worked in various establishments , and for the duration of inspections, you would not believe the difference,....etc it doesn't matter if the temperature of bath water is correct, its the attitude of the Carer that counts all day and every day,

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 371.

    If the management of the hospitals had bothered to listen to complaints from patients,relatives and visitors rather than fobbing them off and covering up bad outcomes then maybe we wouldn't be here.
    The same old 'lessons have been learned' and 'measures are being put in place' are simply not good enough.
    Now the solution is to thriow money into more inspections which as always will find nothing.

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 333.

    It seems the new regime is much like the old.
    A well meaning team (presumably by appointment) spends two days ticking boxes, then they go away.
    What is required is a patient 'champion' 24 hours a day.
    I thought that was one of the roles the Ward Sister was appointed to undertake. He/She would be in proximity to the patient for many hours each day, and act as liaison with other medical staff.

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 224.

    Surely this is what caused the problem? In 1997 Labour added a HIGH level of regulation, causing the cost of the NHS to rocket to £1bn and the number of managers to triple. It also caused management to fall back into a "tick the box" culture rather than "be the best" which they had aimed at before.

    Increased regulation is NOT the answer.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 223.

    When you have a monopoly in any industry standards will fall. Untill we have a system where the patient dictates the financial future of GP Practices, Hospitals etc the situation will never be ideal. When we can really choose who gets our business just like plumbers and builders standards will improve automatically without layers of oversight. Have a look at The Australian model as a way forward.

 

Comments 5 of 9

 

More Health stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

BBC Future

(Science Photo Library)

Can Ebola spread on planes?

Experts offer their advice Read more...

Programmes

  • A woman sits on a bed in a scene from Gustav Deutsch's latest film about Edward Hopper's paintingsTalking Movies Watch

    How film-maker Gustav Deutsch brought Edward Hopper’s paintings to life

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.