Abortion clinics to be given star ratings by Care Quality Commission
Abortion clinics are among a new group of healthcare services which will have to publicly display official ratings from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Department for Health is extending the CQC's current ratings programme.
It means all healthcare organisations in England offering regulated care are now going to be rated by the commission and marks will have to be available.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "These changes are a world first for patient safety."
He added that "modernising our tough Ofsted-style inspection scheme" meant the NHS could "keep pace with the changing landscape of healthcare, as well as helping tech savvy patients to make informed decisions about their care".
The CQC already inspects NHS and independent hospitals, general practices and adult social care services and then rates them in one of four categories - outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.
The commission also inspects other healthcare organisations and under the extension of its programme, it will now be able to allocate them a rating.
A spokesman told the BBC the CQC hoped the first ratings would appear towards the end of the year.
New organisations to be rated are:
- substance misuse centres
- independent ambulances
- cosmetic surgery providers
- termination of pregnancy providers
- dialysis units
- refractive eye surgery providers
- independent community health service providers
Under its new powers, the CQC will require these providers to display their rating in a public place - such as on their website or in their business premises - so the public can make an informed choice on which service they want to use.
'Quality and safety'
Some services will continue to be excluded from this process, including primary dental care, national screening services and blood and transplant services.
The excluded services are those that are already rated by another regulatory body, are very small in number, meaning the public has limited choice, or are relatively low risk with fewer inspections.
Sir David Behan, CQC chief executive, said: "Never before has the public had such clear information about the quality and safety of their health and care services.
"CQC already inspects and publishes reports for these additional services and so, the ability to award ratings to them will bring increased transparency for the public about the quality and safety of their healthcare."
The CQC now has to work out how it will rate the additional services and it is likely to launch a public consultation.
In the meantime, it will continue with its inspections of these services.