Chair of CQC criticises variability of care within the NHS

David Prior, the Chair of the CQC, has voiced criticisms over the provision of care within the NHS.  In an article for the Guardian where he discusses the merits of increased transparency in care he warns that “many patients receive poor care”.

Commenting on the new rating system currently being introduced for providers registered with CQC, he stated that the new rating system will provide increased transparency of service provision to the public and stated that “in the same was that parents take note of the findings of Ofsted when choosing a school, so too will they be able to take note of ratings from CQC reports.”

Commenting specifically on hospitals he stated “safety should be the top priority of our hospitals, yet the CQC reports on hospitals too often show them not meeting good standards of safety, let alone outstanding.”  He added that “any assessment of the NHS can only have one possible conclusion: standards of care are highly variable, sometimes dangerously so.  We have some outstanding hospitals, we have some inadequate hospitals.  And the variation in primary care between different GP practices is probably even greater.”

Commenting on the variation of care provision within hospitals he stated “This variation matters not just because many patients receive poor care, indeed many thousands die avoidably every year.  No one knows how many, but in hospitals it has been estimated to be anywhere between 3000 and 10,000 people.”  He added that the increased transparency required as part of the new CQC inspection regime can help to eliminate unacceptable variation.

Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer of NHS England rejected Prior’s criticisms and stated “The NHS treats millions of people every year and the overwhelming majority of our patients receive great care from staff who are pulling out all the stops.  We do need to do more, but the quality of care is better now than at any point in the history of the NHS.”

The chair of council at the British Medical Association, Dr Mark Porter also disagreed with Prior’s comments and stated that while action must be taken to ensure safety if poor care is uncovered “the vast majority of patients receive world-class care despite the NHS being under enormous pressure from rising patient demand and falling resources.”

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