More hospital trusts are likely to be placed in “special measures” due to their poor performance, the health secretary has warned.
At present 14 NHS trusts are operating under the regime, which is put into place when hospital inspectors identify major failings.
Issues that can lead to a trust being put into special measures include staff problems, poor care and leadership difficulties. Management at trusts that are deemed to be failing can either be replaced or supported to make improvements.
Speaking at a Healthcare Conference on the legacy of the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, Jeremy Hunt said: “One of the most important things is to create a culture where we are honest about problems and we are able to speak up.
“We have got 14 hospitals in special measures in the last year, that’s never happened before, that’s nearly 10% of acute trusts, and there will be more to come,” he told delegates.
He added: “We have an independent chief inspector of hospitals who started work last year, Professor Sir Mike Richards who is doing a fantastic job.
“The only reason I say I expect more to come is because he has only just started his new inspection regime, he has got to get through 250 NHS trusts in the next two years and I think it’s unlikely that he won’t find some other places where there are problems.”
Mr Hunt added that the scandal at Stafford Hospital was the “worst thing” in the history of the health service.
But he claimed that in the 12 months since the publication of the Francis report there had been a “feeling of positivity” in the NHS.
“I think the last year has been an absolute nightmare for the NHS,” he said. “The Mid Staffs shock was probably the worst thing that has happened to the NHS in 65 years.
“I think the most wonderful thing in the last year, it sort of feels that we have decided as the NHS that we’re going to be transparent, we’re going to be honest,” he said. “Not one person has said to me ‘this doesn’t happen in our organisation’.”
Mr Hunt added: “That is incredibly impressive because everyone has said to me, from the president of the Royal College of Surgeons to the nurses you meet on the front line, ‘it’s awful to say it, it’s not as bad as Mid Staffs with us but sometimes pockets of what went on there I have seen in my work’.
“There has just been this incredible resolve to do something about it,” he said.
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