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Professor Sir Mike Richards announces retirement

27 January 2017
  • Media

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, has announced that he will be retiring this summer.

Sir Mike became CQC’s first Chief Inspector of Hospitals in July 2013. He led the development and implementation of a new approach to hospital inspection which assessed services on whether they are safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led – the things that matter to the people who use them.

Every NHS Trust in the country (acute, specialist, mental health, community and ambulance services) has now been inspected and rated using this new approach. The final independent hospital inspections will be completed shortly.

Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “My retirement this summer will coincide with having been Chief Inspector of Hospitals at CQC for four years, and a qualified doctor for 40 years.  I am incredibly lucky to have had such a long and varied career and I am particularly proud of having led the team who developed and implemented a new approach to hospital inspections – one focused on what matters to people. 

”As we have now completed the first round of inspections of all NHS Trusts, it feels like the right time to hand the baton on to someone else.  When I came to the CQC, I recognised the scale of the challenge ahead – so to have inspected all NHS hospitals resulting in a baseline on quality that is unique to anywhere in the world feels like a like a major achievement.

”This achievement would not have been possible without the passionate commitment of CQC staff to improving quality and to ensuring safe care. I have also been hugely grateful for the ongoing support and encouragement of external partners, including those whom we regulate. Together, we have laid the strong foundations that will ensure that the next phase of hospital regulation will continue to help providers to drive improvement and to ensure that people receive good, safe care.”

Sir David Behan, CQC’s Chief Executive, said: “As CQC’s first Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards has helped to transform our national understanding of the quality and safety of hospital care. Thanks to the inspection programme that he developed and led, we have a more complete picture than ever before of how hospitals are performing on quality, based on detailed assessments of individual services - information which we are increasingly seeing members of the public using to choose their care and providers using to improve care. As the NHS faces the challenges ahead, these assessments will play an important role in safeguarding quality at a time when hospital leaders need to make tough decisions.

‘I am incredibly grateful to Mike for the wisdom, commitment, vision and leadership he has brought to CQC over the past four years. I will miss him enormously, both on a personal and professional basis, but I am confident that he is leaving the organisation in a strong position, with the first round of hospital inspections completed and with a clear plan in place for the next phase of inspections, which we are consulting on currently.

‘Our proposals, which build on the plans set out in our 2016-2021 Strategy, describe how we will use the knowledge developed through the first round of inspections, together with improved systems for gathering intelligence, to simplify and strengthen our assessments to ensure they continue to highlight best practice, help to drive improvement and, where necessary, take action to protect people. The unprecedented baseline understanding of quality which allows us to take these next steps will stand as Mike’s legacy to the NHS and to the people who lead, work in and use it.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “History will judge Mike Richards to be as transformative a figure in raising standards in hospitals as Chris Woodhead was in education. His years of clinical experience combined with his wise judgement have been absolutely vital in helping to make the NHS one of most patient-focused and transparent healthcare systems in the world with a total focus on safety and quality. Thousands of patients benefit every day from the higher standards that have resulted from his influence. We will miss him greatly.”

The recruitment process will begin shortly, with Sir Mike remaining in post until a successor is appointed and is able to take up the role.

Professor Sir Mike Richards was a hospital physician for more than 20 years. After a variety of training posts he was a consultant medical oncologist between 1986 and 1995, and Professor of Palliative Medicine at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals between 1995 and 1999.

In 1999 Sir Mike was appointed as the first National Cancer Director at the Department of Health. In 2007, his role was extended to include end of life care. He led the development and implementation of the NHS Cancer Plan in 2000, the Cancer Reform Strategy in 2008 and Improving Outcomes: A strategy for cancer in 2011.

In July 2012 he was appointed as Director for Reducing Premature Mortality on the NHS Commissioning Board (now NHS England). In this role he led the development of a cardiovascular outcomes strategy.

Sir Mike was awarded a CBE in 2001 and appointed a Knight Bachelor in 2010.


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

  • CQC is seeking views on a number of proposals which describe how the quality regulator intends to develop its ‘next phase’ of regulation for all health and adult social care services, with a particular focus at this stage to the way it will monitor, inspect, rate and report on NHS trusts and adapt its approach in response to emerging new care models.
  • The consultation is open for eight weeks and will close on 14 February 2017. CQC expects to formally respond to the feedback from the consultation in spring 2017. A link to the consultation document can be found at:
  • You can respond to the consultation via web form or by email to or by or send by post to:
    Next phase consultation | Care Quality Commission | 151 Buckingham Palace Road | London | SW1W 9SZ

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.