HEALTH bosses are planning to launch new regime of ‘mini-inspections’ at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General, in which staff will visit and report on each other.

The idea of departments examining each other is aimed at identifying and dealing with problems internally, rather than failings becoming embedded and then highlighted by national inspection teams.

Department staff will be asked to volunteer to be part of the unannounced inspection teams, which will also include representatives from the area’s clinical commissioning groups.

Chief executive Jim Birrell said: “The trust is planning a schedule of ‘mini inspections’ where the scrutiny of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Chief Inspector of Hospitals is replicated internally, as one way of maintaining improved standards at our hospitals and in our community services.

“Members of staff from all disciplines volunteer to join an inspection team who will spend a day closely measuring the performance and standards of their peers in other departments.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been in special measures since July last year, when NHS chief Sir Bruce Keogh made wide-ranging criticisms of the way it was run over several years.

Mr Birrell added: “The scheme has not yet been finalised, but the plan is that all services will be subject to an internal review, and like the CQC process, services will not be told in advance.

“Current thinking is that the inspections would take place twice a year. We tested this approach earlier in the year and it proved to be a very useful experience everyone involved.

“These mini inspections would be in addition to the existing internal quality assurance processes, and regular visits to services by directors.”

The CQC returned to the hospitals last month for a major inspection, the results of which will be key in the trust’s aim to come out of special measures.

A report is expected in July.