I recently received a letter from the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, which set out what he and his Department plan do to in order to drive up standards and patient care after the Keogh Review. Mr Hunt said that:

Today I am reaffirming our commitment to total transparency, accountability and transformation in these hospitals. We will leave no stone unturned in our mission to turn them around.

He set out new measures that underline this radical change from how failing hospitals have been dealt with in the past, including:

  • Instead of yet more management consultancy reports, we are backing the elite leaders at high-performing hospitals to lend their expertise through innovative improvement contracts
  • Past failures went unreported, but transparency will now be guaranteed by the publication of detailed improvement plans for every trust, published via NHS Choices, with monthly progress updates and unprecedented quarterly press conferences
  • Intervention, focus and support provided to these hospitals will be transformed with an Improvement Director appointed by Monitor or the TDA to drive progress in each
  • With quality of care now made a priority across the system, a good or outstanding rating from the CQC will in future be required for any NHS trust seeking Foundation Trust status
  • Freedoms will be curtailed for Foundation Trusts in special measures until ratings improve, increasing support from the system and its accountability
  • To deliver the future leaders all our hospitals deserve, a new fast-track NHS leadership training programme will recruit and train elite clinicians and managers across the system

I was also encouraged to hear that:

A trust will only be taken out of special measures when the new independent Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, is clear that care quality has sufficiently improved. Sir Mike began his inspections this week and we may find other hospitals with similar concerns. But our determination to address failures where they are exposed will be unwavering. This level of openness and resolve is critical to restoring public confidence and making sure everyone gets the best care.

I’m glad progress is being made.

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