Patient environment and action teams have rated a record number of sites as excellent.

Teams of trust directors, NHS staff, patients and estates managers scored nearly a quarter of units excellent for their general environment, 58 per cent for food standards and 44 per cent for levels of privacy and dignity.

But 17 sites were also rated poor or unacceptable on at least one of the three categories.

National Patient Safety Agency chief executive Martin Fletcher said: “Every hospital in England should aspire to the level of the best - this is what patients want from the NHS. 

“The number of sites that have achieved this is the highest yet and I would like to congratulate everyone for making this happen.” He added: “Whilst these findings are encouraging, there’s still work to be done. This data will help trusts to further improve [patients’] experiences.”

Patient environment and action teams inspect NHS hospitals and units in England with more than 10 inpatient beds, scoring them excellent, good, acceptable, poor or unacceptable.

Nine sites were rated poor for environment, compared with two for food and one for privacy and dignity. Three were deemed to have unacceptable environments, while two received the lowest rating for privacy and dignity and one for food.

“Environment” covers standards of cleanliness, decoration, linen, furniture and state of repair.

Only one unit was said to be unacceptable for more than one category, Norfolk Lodge at South West London and St George’s Mental Health trust. The lodge provides 24-hour care for people with severe long-term mental illness and social disabilities.

Trust chief executive Judy Wilson said: “The inspection findings reflect many of the concerns the trust shares about the quality of accommodation at Norfolk Lodge.”

The trust was taking urgent action to address the problems and reviewing the lack of space, she said.