Over 120 NHS trusts will receive surprise visits from the Healthcare Commission this year, in a bid to improve hospital hygiene.
The commission is to check hospital compliance with government hygiene codes designed to prevent and manage infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
The government will compare infection rates at hospitals throughout the country and then visit those struggling to meet the necessary requirements.
They hope to visit ten trusts per month, involving up to two-thirds of all acute NHS trusts.
Government assessors will look at hospital cleanliness and procedures to manage infection, such as washing and clean laundry facilities.
“The 120 assessments will be in depth, from interviews that assess the knowledge of staff, through to checking whether wards and bathrooms have been cleaned properly,” said Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission.
Hospitals that breach the hygiene code will have to outline an action plan to rectify their problems within a specific time period.
Failure to do this will result in the commission issuing an improvement notice that requires immediate changes.
If after an improvement notice, a hospital takes no action, the commission can ask the Secretary of State to impose special measures and oversee a programme of improvement.
Annual assessments and the latest flash inspections are to be coordinated to ensure no hospital is visited more than once.