The government has defended the Care Quality Commission after a report found a raft of underperforming hospitals and high death rates.
Health minister Mike O’Brien said work by the CQC was more reliable and broader in scope than a league table compiled by Dr Foster Intelligence into hospitals’ performance.
Dr Foster just looks at the statistics and it derives conclusions from the statistics. If you are looking at who do you rely on, it is the Care Quality Commission
He insisted in an interview with GMTV that, although there was “still a lot of work” to be done, the NHS was a “lot better than it has ever been”.
“What the Care Quality Commission does is that it actually goes in and it inspects any hospitals it has concerns about, so if there is a statistical issue which they are concerned about they can go in and inspect it,” he said.
“They have done that with a number of hospitals; they have identified Basildon, for example, which is where help has had to go in to look after the management of that hospital and improve it, because they have inspected it.
“Dr Foster just looks at the statistics and it derives conclusions from the statistics. If you are looking at who do you rely on, it is the Care Quality Commission.”
Mr O’Brien was speaking as the CQC was accused of being “toothless” after the report by Dr Foster Intelligence rated a dozen hospitals as “significantly underperforming”, despite nine of them being rated good or excellent by official regulator the CQC.
Seven hospitals were also found to have considerably higher mortality rates for the past five years.
Bottom of the Dr Foster league table was Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which last week had an emergency task force ordered in to improve standards.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Labour said that their new inspection regime would keep NHS patients safe. It is now clear that regime is fatally flawed.
“But instead of taking action to act on this report and fix the problem Labour seem more concerned with trying to shoot the messenger.”