What is a hospital?
A hospital is an institution offering the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. It will usually have facilities for inpatients.
Hospitals can offer a wide range of services (a general hospital) or be specialised. The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, for example, specialises in cancer treatment and research while Papworth Hospital, near Cambridge, specialises in the heart and lungs.
Most general hospitals will offer accident and emergency (A&E), maternity, surgery, care for the elderly and outpatient services.
Hospitals in England generally fall into one of two categories: those run by the NHS and those that are independent, for example those run by private companies or charities.
Types of hospital
- provide their services free at point of delivery
- generally have links with the local community
- usually come under the local health trust.
- often charge for the services they provide
- may be run by private companies or charities.
Our Chief Inspector
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals is Prof Sir Mike Richards.
A former hospital physician of 20 years' experience who was the first National Cancer Director, Sir Mike was appointed to his current role in May 2013. Read Sir Mike's full biography on our Chief Inspectors page.
Find out more about Sir Mike...
- Watch An interview with Sir Mike.
- Read the news of Sir Mike announcing his plans for acute hospital inspections.
- Find out about how to Join Mike's inspection army.
Our latest findings
From our survey of women's experiences of maternity care
We captured the experiences of over 23,000 women who told us about the maternity care they received.
Find out more about their experiences and the trends we saw in Maternity services survey 2013.
From our Hospital Intelligent Monitoring
We use intelligent monitoring of more than 150 different indicators to direct our hospital inspection resources to where they are most needed.
Read more in our Hospital Intelligent Monitoring section.
From our Care Update...
Our latest Care Update includes details of how well both NHS trusts and independent healthcare services were meeting standards up until the end of last year.
On 31 December 2012, 650 (83 per cent) of NHS services that we had inspected were meeting all of the National standards we checked.
An additional 125 services were not meeting at least one standard and we were taking enforcement action against another four NHS services.
We found a number of services weren't checking the quality of care effectively because they didn't capture the views of patients.
Read more in our Care Update: NHS section.
On 31 December 2012, 1,262 (89 per cent) of independent healthcare services that we had inspected were meeting all of the National standards we checked.
The number of services that were not meeting at least one standard had decreased by seven per cent – from 18 per cent in March 2012 to 11 per cent by the end of December.
We also took enforcement action against seven services where we found serious concerns.
Read more in our Care Update: Private healthcare section.