The regulator currently regulates more than 21,000 healthcare providers, including hospitals and care homes, but it has recently faced criticism following a series of critical reports branding the CQC’s performance to date a ‘failure’.

Reports by the House of Commons Health Committee, the National Audit Office and a public inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust have raised concerns about the leadership, culture and governance of the regulator.

The reports highlight a lack of inspections, a failure to fill key roles and the closure of a dedicated whistleblower hotline.

Nothing is more important than patient safety

The MPs' report criticises the CQC for failing to protect people from poor and unsafe care, raising particular concern about the regulator's ability to register and assess 10,000 GP practices this year.

The Department of Health said that they had increased the funding for more inspectors and they were trying to address the problems in the CQC.

A spokesperson for the CQC pointed out that the numbers of unannounced inspections had risen and that they were delivering benefits for patients.

Anne Osborn, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Clinical Negligence Unit said: “Failings by the healthcare regulator are concerning, and mean that people may well be receiving below standard care. The steps being taken should improve matters, but nothing is more important than patient safety.”