Hunt to introduce ‘Ofsted style’ ratings for hospitals and care homes to push up standards
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will pledge overhaul of current inspection regime after being 'appalled'
08:11 GMT, 27 November 2012
Hospitals and care homes will be given Ofsted-style ratings in a move by Jeremy Hunt, pictured
Hospitals and care homes will be given Oftsed-style ratings as part of a major drive to root out ‘bog-standard’ performance in the NHS.
Jeremy Hunt will pledge an overhaul of the current inspection regime, which he says promotes poor care as it gives institutions little incentive to improve.
The Health Secretary has acted after being ‘appalled’ by last week’s report from the Care Quality Commission watchdog, which found standards so poor that one in five care homes do not even feed residents properly.
He wants people to be able to easily access the new ratings on an official website, allowing them to choose their hospital or care home by comparing them with others.
The Health Secretary will announce the overhaul in a speech at the King’s Fund in London tomorrow.
Mr Hunt believes the current system – under which trusts and care homes are merely told whether or not they meet certain ‘minimum standards’ – can encourage a ‘tick box mentality’ which leads to poor care.
He believes it can discourage complacent managers from continuing to improve standards once they have passed the minimum bar.
This failure to root out poor care contributed to the failings at the Mid Staffordshire trust, where hundreds died in a filthy A&E department, he says.
The plan is to replace these minimum standards with a grading system similar to Ofsted’s, which ranks schools ‘inadequate’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
No decision has yet been taken on whether these are the ratings which will be used – that will only be taken following a consultation.
But Mr Hunt said some sort of grading system is essential to encourage managers to raise their game in an attempt to achieve a higher ranking – for the good of patients. The Health Secretary will announce the overhaul in a speech tomorrow.
He will say: ‘The public knows how well each school in their area is doing thanks to independent and thorough Ofsted inspections. But because the CQC only measures whether minimum standards have been reached, they do not know the same about their hospitals and care homes.
A report found standards so poor that a fifth of care homes do not even feed residents properly (file photo)
‘Given the scale of some of the problems we’re uncovering in care provision, it’s now clear it was a big mistake by Labour to abolish star ratings in 2008. In doing so they not only deprived the public of vital information, they abolished the pressure for a constant, relentless improvement in standards.
‘There may have been problems with the way the assessments were done, the people who did them, their timeliness or their accuracy.
‘But the principle – that there should be an easy to understand, independent and expert assessment of how well somewhere is doing – is correct. And essential if we are to drive up standards.’
Last week, a report by the CQC found that thousands of elderly people are suffering poor and unsafe care in hospitals and nursing homes.
Fifteen per cent of hospitals and 20 per cent of care homes failed to meet minimum standards on ensuring residents had enough food and drink, and the help they needed to consume it.
Ten per cent of NHS hospitals and 15 per cent of nursing homes failed to meet standards on treating patients with dignity and respect.
A source close to Mr Hunt said: ‘Jeremy was appalled by what he read in the CQC report. He wants a new system which will help drive up care standards.’
Under the plans, there will be separate ratings for each individual care home, and probably for individual hospital departments rather than the whole institution. This will enable patients to know that while a hospital’s cardiology unit may be good, its maternity wards may be poor.
It is envisaged that the information will be available in an easily-accessible format, perhaps on the website of the CQC.