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Sir Mike bows out

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of hospitals, is to retire this summer, he announced on Friday.

Sir Mike became the first person in the role in July 2013 and he led the development of the regulator’s new approach to inspections. The post was created in response to the Francis inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire care scandal. Every hospital trust in England has now been assessed under the new regime.

Before joining the CQC, he was director of improving mortality at NHS England and previously national cancer director for 12 years.

The great and the good of the health world were quick to praise Sir Mike and wish him happy retirement.

The health secretary praised him for “helping to make the NHS one of the most patient-focused and transparent healthcare systems in the world”.

Jeremy Hunt added: “History will judge Mike Richards to be as transformative a figure in raising standards in hospitals as Chris Woodhead was in education.”

Former NHS England tech chief Tim Kelsey called him “an inspiration: one of the greatest advocates for the patient in global health”, while current strategy director Michael Macdonnell said Sir Mike was “a titan”.

Fellow chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe said Sir Mike’s “vision, determination and dedication have made such a difference”.

The man himself said: “As we have now completed the first round of inspections of all NHS trusts, it feels like the right time to hand the baton on to someone else.

“When I came to the CQC, I recognised the scale of the challenge ahead – so to have inspected all NHS hospitals resulting in a baseline on quality that is unique to anywhere in the world feels like a like a major achievement.”

The search for his successor will start shortly, with big shoes to fill in this important role.