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New hospital inspection regime targets poor care

The CQC's new hospital inspection regime, given an overhaul following the Stafford Hospital scandal, has begun with inspectors visiting Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in south London today (Tuesday 17th September). It's the first of 18 inspections due to take place before the end of 2013.

Mike Richards, the new Chief Inspector of hospitals, is leading the process and promises to "expose poor and mediocre" care.

The inspection teams are larger and more specialised than before - about 30 people are taking part in the Croydon visit, including a surgeon, senior nurses, a student nurse and members of the public. There will also be a public meeting held in Croydon on Tuesday evening - something that will be happening during the other inspections too.

Patient experience

Another key difference is that the inspections will focus on the whole patient experience. Each inspection will cover eight key services areas: A&E; medical care; surgery; critical care; maternity; paediatrics; end-of-life care; and outpatients.

The inspections will be a mixture of announced and unannounced visits and they will include inspections in the evenings and at weekends.

That contrasts with the previous inspections which were grouped around essential standards so hospitals would find themselves inspected for issues such as nutrition and infection control rather than the entire system.

Sir Mike 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." Results will be published about a month after each inspection.

The next few inspection visits will take place at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. By the end of 2015 the CQC aims to have inspected all acute hospitals.