This site is intended for health professionals only

Lilley: Inspection ‘makes good people lie’

by Lalah-Simone Springer
3 March 2014

Share this article

Key healthcare leaders defended inspection as a way to keep the NHS safe at a conference in Manchester today, following a spirited attack from healthcare commentator Roy Lilley. 

Roy Lilley, broadcaster and founder of (pictured) said that inspecting services “adds nothing to quality” and that it has “destroyed the collegiate ethos of the NHS”. 

According to Lilley: “We have turned [the NHS] into a inspection system where people come to work and lie rather than fixing the problem. The way to deal with it is [to say] the NHS is a complicated place which deals with complicated things. From time to time you get things wrong. The sin is to get it wrong and cover it up. 

“Inspection helps no one and has been abandoned by just about everyone in industry. You’ve got to get to a point where people say they have a problem and ask for help. We are driving that out of the system.” 

But the chief inspector of hospitals for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said inspection is key to improvement of services. 

Speaking at NHS England’s Healthcare Innovation Expo, Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “We have seen improvement in stroke services because there has been a stroke audit and a programme of visiting services.

“Just setting standards does not improve services, when you go in and back again, that’s when you see improvement. That’s what we saw in cancer, stroke and we will see it across hospitals.”

And Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC) agreed that inspection is needed, but he did concede that the healthcare system could be putting “too much reliance” on the measures to improve quality.

He said: “National systems have a limited role [in improving care]. The question is, can you have a national system that matches what people are doing at ground level, and empowers individuals. Frankly, unless a doctor or nurse raises concerns at a local level, you can have all the inspections you want but they won’t capture what’s going on. 

“You need a self-correcting system which relies on the individual professional, then on their team and then on their board.”