The Care Quality Commission has pinpointed more than 10 trusts that have fallen short of its quality standards for more than two years, potentially putting patients at risk of unsafe care for extended periods.

According to the health watchdog, 32 hospital locations have been “non-compliant” with one or more of its standards for over two years.

Of this group, 15 are managed by 11 NHS providers (see box, below) and the remaining 17 locations are managed by independent healthcare firms including Spire Healthcare and St Andrew’s Healthcare.

Several of the NHS providers are already under the special measures regime, such as United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust; Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust; and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.

The list includes hospitals that have been non-compliant on different standards over time, rather than being non-compliant on a single standard for the whole two year period.

At the regulator’s monthly board meeting last week, non-executive director Sir Robert Francis described “tolerance of non-compliance for long periods of time” as a “risk to safety”.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay is one of the trusts that has fallen short of CQC standards

He also questioned whether there was a “degree of institutional complacency” within the CQC about non-compliance.

“It becomes a sort of acceptance that this has happened and nothing terrible has happened so far,” Sir Robert said.

“Actually what you’re looking at is a period of risk to which people are being exposed because nothing is being done about these matters by the registered organisation.”

CQC chief executive David Behan admitted the situation was “not acceptable” and said action was being taken to address the issue.

The chief inspector of hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, plans to examine individual reports of each of the hospitals in a bid to identify the reasons for continued non-compliance.

Mr Behan said the regulator’s enforcement capability would also be beefed up to help strengthen its grip on the problem.

Outside of the hospital sector, 205 adult social care and seven primary care locations have been non-compliant for more than two years. Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care, said the new special measures regime being developed for her sector would help to solve the problem of persistently underperforming providers.

The 11 non-compliant NHS trusts

  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust
  • The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust
  • Croydon Health Services Trust
  • Bedford Hospital Trust
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals Trust
  • Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust
  • Aintree University Hospital Foundation Trust
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

The non-compliant independent providers

  • Glentworth House Limited
  • Alpha Hospitals (NW) Limited
  • Hunters Moor Residential Services Limited
  • Fresenius Medical Care Renal Services Limited
  • Spire Healthcare Limited
  • Mindsets Foundation
  • Partnerships in Care Limited
  • Acorn Care Limited
  • The Diagnostic Clinic
  • St Andrew’s Healthcare
  • The Pemberdeen Laser Cosmetic Surgery Clinic Limited
  • Curo Care Limited
  • Priory Secure Services Limited
  • Northern Doctors Specialised Care Limited