NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh hopes his review of care quality at 14 acute trusts will provide a model for the future chief inspector of hospitals.
The government asked Sir Bruce to review the trusts in an immediate response to publication of the Francis report – they had all recorded higher than expected mortality rates for two successive years.
He told HSJ the review’s approach was in development, but it was likely to begin by examining data about the trusts, particularly staff and patient feedback.
This information would be used to provide “lines of inquiry” for “rapid response groups” which would then go into the hospitals.
The groups will include “very experienced clinicians and managers, as well as patients [who] will all have been trained”, and apply consistent standards.
The Francis report called for the NHS to develop a “specialist cadre of inspectors by thorough training in the principles of hospital care”, and involve “service user representatives, clinicians and any other specialism necessary” in inspections.
All findings will be published on the NHS Choices website.
Once each trust has been reviewed a “risk summit” meeting will be held, including its commissioners, regulators and other national organisations.
Sir Bruce said if problems were found the meetings would consider whether trusts “are on the right trajectory or do they need help?” The summits would be able to consider whether major service change was needed.
A final report with “lessons for Care Quality Commission and Monitor and others” will be published in July. Sir Bruce said he hoped the review’s approach would “help inform the new chief inspector of hospitals and other organisations” and create “a credible methodology that the chief inspector can build on”.
The government proposed creating the chief inspector role in response to Francis, and it is expected to be appointed later this year.
National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor, a member of the group overseeing the review, said it should consider its findings alongside Don Berwick’s safety work, and a review of complaints policy.
“The pieces of work could become part of a considered government response to Francis,” he said. “[The different reviews] do need to talk to each other.”