The Care Quality Commission will publish six traffic light ratings for each health provider later this year, chief executive Cynthia Bower has revealed.

The regulator has to decide whether to register each NHS trust by 1 April, and whether to give them conditions to meet. An announcement on the first batch of trusts to be registered is expected tomorrow.

We will be able to say, ‘This is the most up to date judgement about that organisation’

Ms Bower told HSJ the deadline would mark the beginning of a new system of “live” regulation, rather than the “retrospective judgement” of the annual health check and its predecessors.

She said traffic light ratings would be published for individual providers on the CQC website in late summer or autumn. There will be one for each of the regulator’s standards “headings” with the results updated through the year, based on CQC visits and a range of other information. The CQC will not publish a national list

Ms Bower said: “It is not the registration itself that is important but the fact these are a live set of standards. Trusts will be subject to a 24/7 compliance system.

“We will be able to say, ‘This is the most up to date judgement about that organisation.’”

The introduction of the registration process has not been smooth, facing outspoken criticism from some chief executives and concern it may face reform not long after being put in place.

Ms Bower acknowledged it would be wrong to say the new system represented “the end point of regulation”.

“We are taking the system forward and someone will take it forward after us,” she said.

But Ms Bower said some elements of the system should be strongly welcomed by managers, the public and politicians - particularly that inspection will be unannounced and focused on care and outcomes, not assurance processes.

Further batches of registrations are due to be announced on 26 March and 1 April.