Patient choice, performance and accountability could all be improved by having Ofsted-style ratings and inspections for care homes and GP practices, according to a think tank.
The Nuffield Trust says a ratings system for the NHS could be in place within two years, spurring those that get lower scores on to perform better.
The trust was commissioned by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look at whether the NHS could benefit from a grading system similar to the one used in schools. And it says its report reveals a “real gap” in the information the public has access to about health and social care providers.
Lead author Dr Jennifer Dixon said current information was confusing, leaving the public “largely in the dark”.
The report concludes that a ratings system for less complex providers such as GP practices and care homes could be beneficial.
But it says giving hospitals a single score risked examples of good or poor care in different departments or wards being masked. It suggests considering individual services and departments if such a scheme is to be introduced in hospitals.