The second wave of trusts to be inspected by the Care Quality Commission’s new quality teams will be announced shortly.
The commission’s director of strategy and intelligence Paul Bate told a session at the Foundation Trust Network’s annual conference yesterday that the next 16 trusts being inspected would soon be announced.
Mr Bate said the old system of generalist inspectors visiting “a dental practice one day and a tertiary teaching hospital another” was “broken”.
Eighteen acute trusts have either had their inspection from teams led by chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards or are due to by the end of December.
The CQC’s two waves of inspection followed the investigation of 14 trusts which were outliers on hospital mortality indicators which was announced by the government in its response to the Francis inquiry into poor care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Of the trusts inspected by the CQC so far, some had high mortality indicator rates and some low. All acute trusts will be inspected over the next two years.
The conference session yesterday heard a 26-strong inspection team had been sent into Croydon Health Services Trust and Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust had been told to reserve 30 car parking spaces for the inspection team.
Chair of Frimley Park Sir Mike Aaronson told the session he welcomed the new rigour in the inspection regime but had “doubts about its sustainability”.
The chair of the Surrey-based hospital trust said his organisation had agreed to conduct mutual mock-CQC inspections with Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust as a way of taking more responsibility for quality themselves.
He added that he hoped if more trusts were able to do this the political pressure for quality assurance would reduce.
Speaking at the session, Mr Bate also confirmed that Sir Mike Richards will also look at community trusts and mental health organisations. The CQC has recently appointed chief inspectors of social care and primary care.
He said the new system will see single warning notices issued where significant improvement is required and added the CQC was “in the diagnosis business, not in the putting right business.”
The session saw a presentation from Adam Cayley, Monitor regional director for the Midlands and East, on its new processes and how the two regulators would work together.
One delegate asked why the two organisations were not simply merged as Robert Francis had recommended in his report.
Jeremy Hunt has previously said he resisted this because he didn’t want a situation where the organisation responsible for identifying a problem was also responsible for rectifying it.
Mr Bate told delegates a merger was seriously considered and would be reviewed regularly but was “not necessary at the moment.”
Mr Cayley said there was just as much potential for an issue to “fall through the cracks” within one organisation, than between two.
He added that Monitor intended to have only two governance ratings, green and red - one indicating concerns, the other no concerns.
Mr Cayley also said it was more likely a specific service line would be placed in special measures rather than a whole trust and the question Monitor would have to ask was whether the organisation had the capability to resolve the problem.
He said that in his experience when governance problems did arise at an organisation it was typically two years after its authorisation as a foundation trust.