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Ministers have triggered a review of the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection regimeHSJ understands.

The Department of Health and Social Care has launched an analysis of the CQC’s work and has appointed a senior NHS figure to lead it.

Penny Dash, current North West London Integrated Care Board chair and formerly a senior McKinsey and company consultant, has been chosen to lead the work, which has been commissioned by the DHSC and other government departments.

HSJ understands the review will examine how the CQC’s recently updated assessment framework is progressing. It will also assess how it links to NHS England’s national oversight regime, and whether the CQC’s ratings are properly rewarding and incentivising improvement of care, sources said.

Additionally, it will consider how the regulator is taking into account service user and patient voices.

One source involved said they hoped the review would also respond to providers’ complaints that CQC inspections are making it more difficult for them to redesign services. For instance, by imposing minimum staffing requirements, which is leading to a skewing of priorities.

The work is unlikely to be completed before the autumn and therefore is highly likely to report to a new government.

Another one bites the dust

The programme to build 40 “new hospitals” by the end of the decade has been facing repeated delays and rising costs for a long time. 

But all the while, schemes have insisted they remain on track for the 2030 target.

This has been unsurprising, given how politically charged the date is. After all, the now-government pledged to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 in their manifesto. 

But the cracks have now started to show, with trusts starting to admit for the first time that this now looks unlikely.

Princess Alexandra Hospitals Trust has become the latest to admit this, saying 2032 now seems “more achievable”. 

It comes a week after Barts Health Trust said meeting 2030 now seemed “highly unlikely”.

These trusts are no stranger to delays with their new hospitals. Both were frontrunners for completion by 2025 in the first iteration of the major hospital-building programme, before being shifted further back in the queue.

Also on

Fourteen integrated care boards bucked the overall national improvement in long waiters, instead reporting increases in their 65-week breaches in 2023-24 up to February, Recovery Watch’s analysis of official data shows. And we report that ICBs and local authorities are cutting their voluntary contributions to the better care fund by more than £500m compared to a high point in 2021–22.