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Quality regulator slams NHS trusts

Published on 16/10/09 at 09:24am

The Care Quality Commission has slammed nearly 50 NHS trusts in its latest annual report on the care which patients receive.

Twenty trusts are rated "weak" this year on quality, while another 27 have not been higher than "fair" for quality and financial management in the last four years.

"I want to ring the alarm bell in the boardrooms of these organisations," says CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower.

Next year, all trusts must register by law with the CQC.

"It is clear that many have significant work to do to and a short time in which to do it. They should be in no doubt that we will take firm action if we deem it necessary," Bower added.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust is at the bottom of the heap, rated "double-weak".

Overall picture more positive

But despite the brickbats, the CQC report is positive overall: more patients are now seen in A&E within four hours and receive treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

There has also been a general reduction in MRSA and Clostridium difficile - although acute hospital trusts still need to do more, the CQC warns.

A "significant" improvement in financial management has been noted, and for the first time more than half of PCTs have been rated "excellent" or "good".

However, fewer acute trusts were given top rating and more were deemed "fair".

The CQC suggested this was in part due to increased scrutiny on issues such as child safeguarding and healthcare-associated infection, which make ratings tougher.

There were 37 "double-excellent" trusts, including The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, which achieved this rating for the fourth year running.

However, King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said patients still needed more information about their trusts.

"Unfortunately, the ratings on their own do not shed light on why some trusts perform well and others do not," he said.

"We need to understand whether the problems are managerial or structural, and what is being done to help them raise their game." Dickson also pointed out that the current performance has been achieved in a period of funding growth - rather than the financial squeeze expected in the next decade.

Details of individual trusts are available at, with links to the NHS Choices website which allows patients to leave feedback.


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