Hospitals facing tough new goals
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will tell the health service it must improve patient outcomes under tough new goals for hospitals.
In a speech at a central London hospital he will call on the NHS to focus on what matters most to patients.
The Government is producing 60 indicators relating to how patients fare during and following treatment.
The NHS Outcomes Framework includes a focus on improving cancer survival and a zero tolerance approach to hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile. It will ensure patients are treated with dignity and respect by measuring the "responsiveness" of staff to patient needs when staying in hospital.
It is also designed to improve women's and families' experiences of maternity services, increase the number of people who can access an NHS dentist and help older people recover independence after illness.
There will also be an indicator looking at carers who look after sick and elderly relatives and friends.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Mr Lansley said: "We have to clear the decks and be clear this is what we are focusing on. People say in three and a half years' time, in 2015, at the next election, how will we know whether you've succeeded or not? The answer is, 'Have the outcomes improved?'
"It will be my failure if we haven't improved them and the NHS should feel that it has not succeeded, that is what we are setting out to do."
The aim of the plan is also to move away from a focus on targets, such as those for waiting times introduced under Labour. However, patients will still have the right to prompt treatment within 18 weeks of referral by their GP as set out in the NHS Constitution.
Mr Lansley hopes the framework will also provide reassurance to parliamentarians about the accountability of the Health Secretary for the NHS, as there have been concerns that the Health and Social Care Bill, currently going through the Lords, dramatically weakens accountability of the secretary of state.