The first report from the new NHS inspection scheme has highlighted poor care, overcrowding and unacceptable delays.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited 18 hospitals across the country as part of a new inspection scheme, introduced in the wake of the Mid-Staffs scandal.

By the end of 2015, all hospitals in the country will be assessed and given a rating of outstanding, good, requiring improvement or inadequate.

The first report noted “significant variations” in the quality of care provided across the different hospitals.

Overall, maternity and critical care units performed the best, whereas outpatients, A&E and medical care were the worst.

The CQC said that “unacceptably poor” care was delivered in two thirds of outpatient services, with problems including long delays, overcrowding and cancellations of clinics at short notice.

Inspectors also found that A&E units were under the most strain, where locum doctors are being called in to fill staff shortages.

 “Overcrowding, long waiting times and insufficient staffing levels”

The report stated: “Overcrowding, long waiting times, and insufficient staffing levels were the commonest problems. We saw high levels of agency staff and locum use in A&E departments, particularly among doctors.”

“Patients were not always moving through hospitals as they should have been, with delays from A&E to Acute Medical Units and then onwards to wards. We also found delays moving patients from critical care to surgical and medical wards and hospitals also had problems moving patients from wards back into the community.”

Poor hospital care

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