IT would appear our hospitals are certainly going to get a thorough health check next week.
About 60 auditors and inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will pitch up at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton hospitals, as well as the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre for two days to inspect how they are running.
It promises to be a rigorous inspection and, according to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael, that is a tenfold increase in the number of people who will be involved.
The inspection is part of a broadened programme from the CQC in the wake of the horror story that was the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and the failings by the regulator to detect its woeful care.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.
Certainly there needs to a robust inspection of all hospitals because we can’t allow another Mid-Staffs. But there is also a danger that there may be too rigorous an inspection, one that uncovers problems that are not really there and doing nothing more than tying up NHS staff in red tape rather than allowing them to do their core function: making people better.
Having said that, we would also expect the hospital to immediately accept reasonable criticism and scrutiny. Its record recently on disputing findings or figures from outside organisations has been concerning.
One other hope we must all cling to is that perhaps inspectors might come up with a solution to the county’s chronic bed-blocking crisis.
They will not be there to fix problems as such, but health professionals looking in from the outside might just hit on the answer that has been eluding local authorities for years.