Professor Sir Mike Richards has announced that he will retire from his position as the Chief Inspector of Hospitals in the summer.
Richards has filled this role for four years in the Care Quality Commission, but has decided to stand down after a long and esteemed career within the healthcare system.
The commissioner will remain in post until a successor is appointed, with the recruitment process due to get underway immediately.
Richards was the first individual to be appointed Chief Inspector of Hospitals when the position was created for the Care Quality Commission back in July 2013.
He has played a central role in the development of the organisation’s hospital inspections, with a new approach having been adopted recently.
Richards can lay climate to significant successes within the healthcare system, particularly that every hospital trust in the country has been inspected under the new CQC operation that he oversaw.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt took time out from his responsibilities to comment on the career of this key healthcare figure.
“[Richards has helped] to make the NHS one of the most patient focussed and transparent health care systems in the world. History will judge Mike Richards to be as transformative a figure in raising standards in hospitals as Chris Woodhead was in education. Thousands of patients benefit every day from the higher standards that have resulted from his influence. We will miss him greatly.”
Richards himself also spoke on his retirement, expressing his reasons for moving on.
“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.”
He also paid tribute to the hard-working individuals that staff healthcare organisations across the country.
“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.”
Prior to working within the Care Quality Commission, Richards enjoyed a rich and varied career in the NHS.
He was an Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) research fellow in medical oncology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London (1982–86), and then an oncology consultant at Guy’s Hospital in London (1986–95), becoming a Reader in 1991.
Richards was clinical director of Cancer Services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London (1991–99) and Sainsbury Professor of Palliative Medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital from 1995.
He then became head of the Academic Division of Oncology at King’s College London from 1998–99 and chair of the National Cancer Research Institute from 2006–08.