Compassion 'alive and well' in NHS
Compassion in the NHS is "alive and well", according to England's chief inspector of hospitals.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first person to be appointed to the position, insisted outstanding care was possible within the NHS after completing his first wave of hospital inspections.
It comes as a string of high-profile struggles face the NHS including failing trusts, growing pressure on accident & emergency services and the troubled NHS 111 number.
He told The Independent : "We have continued to look at high-risk trusts, but have deliberately in our pilot programme looked across the spectrum.
"What we can now say is that there are some very good hospitals in this country and it is possible, within the NHS, to receive good, excellent , even outstanding care.
"There is variation between the best hospitals we've seen and the ones that are struggling... What is interesting is that within an individual hospital there is variation.
"The maternity service might be very good but the A&E service might require improvement."
The role as the head of the Quality Care Commission was set up in the wake of the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The scandal prompted a major review of 14 NHS trusts with higher than average mortality rates and last year led to to 11 trusts being placed in special measures.
Last month Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust was put into special measures about patient safety in its A&E departments.
Sir Mike is responsible for the watchdog's assessment and judgment of how well hospitals put the quality of care and the interests of patients at the heart of everything that they do, as well as develop and test a new ratings system.
All hospitals will be comprehensively assessed by 2015 and the new ratings system will be rolled out from this month, he said.