DoH Response To The Commission’s Annual Health Check

{mosimage}Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has praised improvements in the NHS but warned organisations not to be complacent and to redouble their efforts to meet patients’ increasing expectations. Ms Hewitt also set out plans for tackling poor performance in a small minority of Trusts identified in the Healthcare Commission’s first ever Annual Health Check results. Responding to the results she said: “I want to congratulate the NHS for the hard work it has put in to improving performance. Millions of people are receiving high quality and safe services every day. The best of the NHS is amongst the best in the world and we should all be proud of its achievements. But I want to see the best everywhere. This is the toughest and most comprehensive assessment of the NHS and it takes forward the commitment we made to patients and the public to provide them with detailed and easily understandable information about the performance of their local health services.

“It is also vitally important that the public can see what is being achieved for the extra money that has been invested. There is no doubt that the NHS has made big improvements particularly on waiting times, access to cancer treatment, community mental health services and treating patients with respect and dignity.

“But as these results show there needs to be even more improvement and we are working with the NHS to ensure that all organisations meet the core standards as soon as possible. However, I can reassure patients that staff in all NHS hospitals will continue to give their patients good, safe care.

“In any situation where the Healthcare Commission is worried about safety, they have powers to take immediate action. We already know that some parts of the NHS need to improve their financial performance, and financially challenged organisations are already working hard to improve their position. But for some that is not enough, and any organisation that has scored weak on both assessments will be required to work with their Strategic Health Authority to produce an improvement plan. I will expect these to be developed within a month.

“The results also confirm that more needs to be done to improve the performance of Primary Care Trusts. I am confident that the recent mergers, which came into effect this month, will result in further improvements. We are also in the process of conducting ‘Fitness for Purpose’ assessments of all PCTs and the first findings are published today. This process helps PCTs to identify their strengths and weaknesses to help improve the future performance of individual PCTs so action can be before things go wrong.”