The chief inspector of hospitals has urged trusts to encourage their top clinicians to lead Care Quality Commission inspections.

Sir Mike Richards issued the call during an HSJ webinar last week, in response to concerns about the quality of inspection teams.

“You ought to be releasing to us the same number of those clinical experts as you expect to come on your inspection,” he said.

Adam Cayley, regional director of Monitor, who also participated in the webinar, gave the new inspection regime a rating of “between a five and a six” out of 10 to date.

He stressed this also applied to the actions Monitor had taken in response to inspection findings.

During the webinar the two regulators were quizzed on the relative power of the CQC and Monitor.

Neil Grant, a partner at Ridouts solicitors, said power had shifted over the last year.

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike emphasised the importance supporting struggling trusts ‘not just getting rid of management’

“I thought a couple of years ago that the power was with Monitor; I think very much the power is with CQC now,” he said.

Mr Cayley said the decision to put trusts in special measures was Monitor’s decision and not a “done deal” when the CQC recommended the move.

Sir Mike said “to the best of [his] knowledge” Monitor had not yet persuaded the CQC against recommending special measures in any case.

The two men agreed that leaders in struggling trusts needed supporting.

Mr Cayley said people who took up jobs in challenging organisations should be seen as the health service’s “great leaders” and the NHS needed to “stop shooting people who go in and put their head on the line”.

He said a trust being rated inadequate for “well led” did not necessarily mean its board was a “disaster”.

Sir Mike said: “The importance of supporting some of these trusts, not just getting rid of management, which was what was done in the past, that is now understood.”