• CQC to review up to four patient deaths in trusts where “concerns” are raised
  • Regulator will also use bereavement services and PHSO investigations to uncover families’ concerns
  • Move is in response to CQC’s report into learning disability deaths last year

NHS trusts will be investigated over patient deaths under new plans from the Care Quality Commission to “strengthen” how it monitors hospital mortality reviews.

The CQC intends to review up to four deaths of patients at individual trusts where it has received “concerns” about the trust from families, whistleblowers or its own risk dashboard, CQC Insight.

The CQC is currently surveying providers and the public to help it decide how the reviews should be “triggered”.

The deaths at each trust will be randomly selected by a CQC inspection team and will include a person with a learning disability and one with a mental health need, where these can be identified.

The new reviews are in response to the regulator’s report into how NHS trusts review, investigate and learn from deaths. The report, carried out at the request of the health secretary following concern about reporting and investigating deaths at Southern Health Foundation Trust, found 60 per cent of acute trusts only investigate 1 per cent of inpatient deaths.

The report recommended that the CQC improves how it holds providers to account over how they identify and investigate patient deaths.

The regulator said it will “find out what families and carers are saying” by using sources such as bereavement services, patient liaison services, Healthwatch, and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigation findings. On CQC Insight it will include information on avoidable deaths, which trusts have been required to report since April 2017.

The CQC’s inspection process has also changed since the December report. In its new annual well led inspections, trusts will be asked how learning from mortality reviews is shared across the organisation. Inspectors will also interview staff and executives involved in investigating deaths, as well as families and carers.

This approach will apply to NHS funded learning disability services and all NHS trusts except ambulance trusts.

In 2018, the CQC plans to introduce a similar approach to GP practices, adult social care, independent healthcare providers and ambulance trusts.