The chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, led teams of specialist inspectors and members of the public representing patients, to complete pilot inspections of 18 acute hospitals between July and December 2013. The report concludes that compassionate care is alive and well in the NHS. Inspectors found care and compassion among frontline staff in every hospital visited, as well as a strong commitment to the NHS. They found that critical care services were delivering high quality, compassionate care and were able to demonstrate how they monitored quality. Maternity services were also generally providing good quality care, and were good at monitoring their effectiveness. Almost all units were using a performance dashboard that helped them understand their performance.
Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) were found to be under greater strain than other hospital services. Some had not adapted to increased volumes of patients, which was leading to overcrowding, long waiting times and staff shortages at times. Outpatient services were poor – they were not responding well to patient needs across most of the hospitals inspected, with patients waiting unacceptably long times to be seen and some clinics being overcrowded as a result. The report also found that apart from critical care and maternity, most services could not demonstrate whether they were delivering effective care or not.