David Prior, the chairman of the Care Quality Commission has reported that there are hospitals in the UK “where you would not want to go as a patient”.
He stated that the CQC’s main finding from recent inspections had been the “huge variation” between the quality of care provided in different areas of the country.
Mr Prior commented that England has “probably some of the best led, best run hospitals in the world”, however he described the variance in standards of care as an NHS postcode lottery.
In an interview to acknowledge his first 12 months as chairman of the CQC, Mr Prior said: “In those hospitals where you would not wish to go, you have a very poor damaged culture where employees feel they can’t raise concerns, where patients are not listened to.”
He said the CQC had identified a number of hospital trusts as “inadequate”, but highlighted that “Barking Havering and Redbridge is a good example,”. “Heatherwood and Wexham Park would be another one.”
The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust was put into special measures in December last year after its A&E departments were found to be “unsafe”.
The newly appointed chief executive of the trust, Matthew Hopkins, has commented that: “I am working with our new chair, Dr Maureen Dalziel and all our staff to implement the trust’s improvement plan to resolve the issues raised in the Care Quality Commission report.
“Both Maureen and myself have a clinical background and are passionate about providing high quality care which will make Queen’s and King George hospitals a provider of choice.”
In January, Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was told to make “urgent improvement to protect patients” at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough.
The trust declined to respond to Mr Prior’s comments.
Mr Prior told the PM Programme the kind of service which patients receive will depend on which hospital they go to.
He said: “We have postcode lotteries in the NHS because the quality of care in one hospital can be very different from the quality of care in another hospital. And I think by exposing those variances, we can address them.”
The Care Quality Commission has overseen the the regulation of health and social care services in England since 2009 and has faced strong criticism during this time.
Last year Mr Prior told the PM programme the “acid test” of success was to be able to ensure the CQC could identify hospitals which are at risk of failing “very early on”.
Next week the CQC will begin what it calls its “formal consultation” on new detailed guidelines about inspections and ratings.
The documents will explain how it hopes to regulate a range of health and social care services, including hospitals, mental health services, GP practices and care homes.