Hospitals like Southport’s Renacres Hospital at Shirdley Hill will be subject to routine Quality monitoring just like NHS hospitals and private nursing homes are at the moment if a pilot programme announced today goes successfully.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, has identified eight independent hospitals to be inspected in the pilot. These vary in size and in the number and type of services they provide, including both NHS-funded care and solely private care.

CQC’s new regulatory approach for the independent healthcare sector signals the first time that these providers will be awarded ratings (from April 2015). There will also be a significant increase in public access to information that will help people who use the services to make decisions about their care.

The first pilot inspections will take place from October to December 2014. They will include both announced and unannounced elements and may include inspections in the evenings and weekends when it is generally thought that the level of care available is most susceptible to dropping below acceptable standards.

Th pilot inspections will help the CQC to refine the way they inspect the private hospital sector and help to develop a rating system: CQC ratings will be issued for private hospitals from 2015.

The core services being inspected will follow the same approach as in the NHS. They will include: surgery (including cosmetic surgery), urgent care services, medical care, children and young people’s care and outpatients.

Inspection teams will include clinicians from both the NHS and the independent sector, CQC inspectors and members of the public who are “experts by experience”.

The eight private hospital providers in the CQC  ‘pilot’ programme are:

Baddow Hospital, Essex
BMI Mount Alvernia, Surrey
The Lister Hospital, London
The London Welbeck Hospital, London
Nuffield Health Tees hospital, County Durham
Oaklands Hospital, Salford
Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, Devon
Spire Southampton Hospital, Hampshire

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ABOVE: Southport Lib Dem Cllr Tony Dawson

Sefton MBC Lib Dem Health spokesperson Councillor Tony Dawson spent many years heading up independent Health Watchdog organisations in the North West Region. He said:

“We have long needed to have processes which hold the independent sector to the account using the same standards as are applied in the NHS. Hopefully the CQC inspection process will bring this about and help spread good practice as well as criticising where appropriate.”

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals said:

“These new-style inspections will allow us to get under the skin of the organisation to give us a much more detailed picture of independent hospital care in England than ever before.”

Each inspection seeks to answer five questions about services: are they safe, caring, effective, well-led and responsive to people’s needs? All independent healthcare providers will receive full ratings from April 2015. The ratings are: ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’

Where there are failures in care, Sir Mike will highlight what needs to be addressed and will ask the hospitals to make sure a clear programme is put in place to deal with any problems.

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