Headlines: June 28th, 2000

The Commission for Health Improvement has begun its programme of regular hospital inspections.The watchdog, set up to help the NHS drive up standards of patient care, is visiting trusts in Southampton, Chesterfield, Bangor, in north west Wales, and Sunderland over the next few weeks.

Inspectors will talk to doctors, nurses and managers about how they carry out their work. Their criteria for inspection is to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care, that they are involved in decisions about their care, and that staff are properly supervised and up to date with their training.

The team will also look for procedures to monitor errors and put them right.

Following the four one-week inspections, reports and action plans will be drawn up with the trusts to address areas of concern.

The first four reviews are being carried out on a pilot basis. The commission will carry out 25 reviews this year, rising to about 175 a year from then on. It will review every hospital and primary care trust in England and Wales within the next four years and publish the result