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Warning as half of NHS trusts fail to meet core standards

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The Care Quality Commission has issued a stark warning to NHS trusts saying that they must do more to comply with essential standards or risk strict conditions being placed on their licence to operate in the future.

The regulator will introduce a new registration system from April 2010 which will see all health and adult social care providers required to meet new government standards to be allowed to operate.

The commission has today published information on what NHS organisations think of their own compliance against the existing standards in what is the first stage of this year’s annual NHS performance assessment.

All 392 NHS trusts have made their fourth annual declaration on whether, during the year to March 31 2009, they have complied with core quality and safety standards.

However, the Commission is ‘concerned’ that only half of trusts said they met all current standards and that there was significant variation between regions.

Chief executive Cynthia Bower said: ‘The NHS has delivered steady improvements in compliance and that should be commended. But it remains concerning that all trusts aren’t meeting core standards on safety and quality, five years after they were introduced.  I urge those trusts affected to raise their game in the areas identified and get compliant over the next few months. We will not hesitate to place conditions upon trusts’ registration, as part of our new statutory powers.’

The latest NHS trust declarations show that fewer trusts say they met key standards on child protection, safety and employment checks compared to last year. There was also no improvement overall in the acute sector, with the proportion of acute trusts declaring full compliance remaining static over the past three years at around 46 per cent.

However, more trusts say they met infection control standards, with more trusts than last year declaring compliance with the three standards relating to infection control, particularly on decontamination of equipment.  But one in five trusts still said they did not comply with at least one of the three infection control standards.

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