One in eight NHS trusts could face fines and hospital closures due to substandard services

One in eight local NHS healthcare trusts could face fines and even be forced to close hospitals from next April if they do not improve standards, the new health regulator has warned.

The Care Quality Commission said that “alarm bells” should ring in the boardrooms of 47 of the country’s 392 NHS trusts, which have been persistently rated as either weak or fair.

“They must do better for their patients… It is clear that many have significant work to do and a short time in which to do it,” said Cynthia Bower, the commission’s chief executive.

From next April all NHS organisations must be registered with the CQC in order to treat patients.

Trusts will face tough tests on quality before they will be allowed to register.

From next year the regulator will have powers to demand improvements, to fine and prosecute trusts, suspend services and even close hospitals.

However, Barbara Young, the commission’s chairman, said that they did not want to force hospital closures.

“We don’t want to get to the last one, because quite frankly that raises the major question of when you get to that nuclear option, where do people get services?,” she said.

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