• Committee led by Jeremy Hunt will subject health ministers to a “CQC style ratings system”
  • Independent panel will evaluate performance and grade progress against commitments
  • New panel’s first inquiry will be into maternity services, in which the government and NHS has been staunchly criticised in recent weeks

The parliamentary committee led by Jeremy Hunt will subject health ministers to a “CQC style ratings system”, as part of a new way of scrutinising the Department of Health and Social Care.

The Health and Social Care Select Committee has set out plans for a new ratings system to “offer independent and objective evaluation of ministerial pledges”.

It says an independent panel will hear witnesses and scrutinise evidence to determine whether the government and its agencies’ performance has been outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, in relation to different service areas. The initial pilot will examine maternity services, which is an area in which the NHS and government faces an unfolding patient safety scandal.

The independent panel will be chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre, professor of medical education at University College London and a former President of the Royal College of Physicians. She will be joined by two permanent panel members, who are yet to be appointed, and up to six experts co-opted for each inquiry.

Mr Hunt, committee chair and former health secretary, said: “We are piloting a new CQC-style ratings system to provide an expert independent assessment of the government’s record on key pledges.

“This will mean the government is held to account by an evaluation process similar to that used across the NHS and social care system which gives not just an absolute score but key pointers as to how to improve that score next time round.

“We hope it will focus attention on areas such as cancer, mental health and patient safety where a number of vital commitments have been made.”

In his six year tenure as health secretary, Mr Hunt styled himself as a champion of patient safety, while his successor, Matt Hancock, has been criticised for appearing to jettison this agenda.

After briefly running in the 2019 Conservative leadership contest himself, Mr Hancock supported Boris Johnson’s bid against Mr Hunt.