Inspections at hospitals in London and Yorkshire will begin this week as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) looks to expose poor and highlight excellent care.
The new programme of hospital inspections intends to cover the entire country, reviewing 18 NHS trusts by the end of the year.
The CQC also hopes to have inspected all acute hospitals by December 2015.
Croydon Health Services Trust will be the first to undergo inspection, followed by Airedale Foundation Trust.
Next week it will be the turn of Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust and The Royal Wolverhampton Trust.
The inspections will conducted by teams called inspection panels, including doctors, nurses, other experts and trained members of the public.
Each team will be much larger than any previously used by the CQC, guided under the leadership of the regulator’s new chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards.
They will cover every site that delivers acute services and eight key services areas. These are A&E, medical care (including frail elderly), surgery, intensive/critical care, maternity, paediatrics/children’s care, end of life care, and outpatients.
It is hoped that each inspection will provide the public with a clearer picture of the quality of care in their local hospital, exposing poor and highlighting excellent care.
There will be a mixture of announced and unannounced visits carried out in the evenings and on weekends.
Where failures in care are found, Sir Mike will suggest solutions and ask the trusts along with Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England to make sure a programme is put in place to deal with the problems.