The CQC, under the leadership of new Chief Inspector of Hospitals Sir Mike Richards, have significantly enhanced their programme of hospital inspections.

The inspections which will cover every site that delivers acute hospital services will be carried out using what the CQC terms as “inspection panels”; these panels consist of doctors, nurses and trained lay people. The inspection panels will examine all aspects of hospital care and the services they provide. They will attend by appointment, but also unannounced, at any time, day and night, week day and week end. The purpose of the visits is to report on any failings and identify areas for improvement. They will also encourage feedback from local users whilst they are on site so they can get a clear picture of the level of service being provided. Following any visit the results will be published and made public.

Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “These inspections are designed to provide people with a clear picture of the quality of the services in their local hospital, exposing poor or mediocre care as well as highlighting areas of good and excellent care.

“We know there is too much variation in quality in the NHS – these new in-depth inspections will allow us to get a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before. Inspections are supported by an improved method for identifying risks and with much more information direct from patients and their families, and hospital staff.”

“We aim to publish our reports about a month after we have completed the inspections.”

Naomi Eady, Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Thompson Smith and Puxon, comments “this sounds like a real attempt by the Commission to get a clear picture of how services are being provided, particularly as visits can now be unannounced and made at times when there is more pressure on the services hospitals are providing.  Hopefully this will prompt hospital management to ensure the service they provide is of a consistently high quality.”