THEY are the new regime of ward inspections that aim to put patients back at the heart of the NHS and put pressure on hospital bosses to boost standards.

And today the first results are in which show that when it comes to the areas that matter most to patients Southampton’s hospitals have been awarded some of the highest scores in the country.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) has scored highly for cleanliness, food and hydration, privacy and appearance at all four of their hospital sites since April.

Thousands of members of the public joined forces with NHS staff to carry out more than 4,600 inspections of hospitals across the UK.

The new Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) judged if patients were being treated in a clean, safe environment, given tasty nutritious food and offered high standards of privacy and dignity.

They replace the Patient E nv i r o n m e n t Action Team inspections, which were carried out solely by hospital staff.

Southampton General Hospital, the Princess Anne Hospital and Countess Mountbatten House scored higher than the national average in all four areas, with Countess Mountbatten House scoring 100 per cent for cleanliness.

The New Forest Birth Centre was the only site to fall below the national average, scoring 81.82 per cent for privacy and dignity, compared to the national average of 89 per cent.

A real coup for bosses at Southampton General Hospital is the trust’s rating for food and hydration. In recent years the hospital has faced criticism over the food served up to patients but this new system has seen it achieve a rating of 88.59 per cent compared to the national average of 85 per cent.

Judy Gillow, director of nursing at UHS, said: “It is testament to the effort and dedication of staff across the organisation and at each of our sites that we have scored above the national average, in some cases significantly, in all but one of the 16 assessments.

“The clinical environment is as important to patients as the quality of the treatment and care they receive and we are all extremely pleased that this process, which is led by patients and members of the public, indicates we are performing very well.

“We will now assess the data and information carefully to ensure we not only maintain the high standards we’ve set ourselves, but also make any necessary improvements we need to provide the best possible care environment at all times.”