Bradford Royal Infirmary is on course to bounce back from safety concerns raised by a health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says it believes the BRI is “moving in the right direction” after issuing a warning notice over a lack of staff.

However, the CQC will not deliver a formal update on the position until it makes a follow-up visit to the hospital, sometime in the coming months.

The optimistic update came as a political row broke out over a sharp rise in the number of hospitals criticised by the CQC for not providing safe care.

Labour said the increase from 16 to 45 in a single year – including the BRI – was proof that the NHS was “heading seriously downhill on this Government’s watch”.

But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government had simply made hospital inspections more rigorous, reversing Labour’s “disastrous” abolition of “expert-led inspections”.

In January, the CQC said Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs BRI, failed to meet national standards in four of six areas with staffing problems the most serious.