At least 11 hospital trusts have failed to meet essential standards for dignity and nutrition in a Care Quality Commission investigation, it has been revealed.

The organisation’s chief executive Cynthia Bower gave the NHS Confederation conference the most detailed results so far of the dignity and nutrition inspections.

With results in from 68 of the 100 acute trusts to be investigated in surprise inspections, only 57 were compliant with both outcomes. Out of the 11 in which compliance sanctions were required, she said two had “quite serious issues”.

Ms Bower revealed that “non-foundation trusts were worse than foundation trusts”.

Giving a typical example of the type of problems uncovered, she said: “Staff didn’t respond to patients and call bells were out of patients’ reach.”

Asked what made the biggest difference between those who failed and passed, she added: “The biggest difference was simply people being kind.”

Professor Rowan Harwood, consultant geriatrition at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said of nursing in the sort of acute environments covered by the report: “This are very high pressure working environments. People not answering call bells is often because of patients who ring them all of the time.”

A series of reports have been issued into the issue by the CQC over the summer. A full report giving complete results from the programme of inspection will come out in September.