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NHS fighting to improve

New data from the UK Healthcare Commission and the Department of Health shows that the NHS is improving in several key areas but still has a long way to go to maximise service efficiency across the country
New data from the UK Healthcare Commission and the Department of Health shows that the NHS is improving in several key areas but still has a long way to go to maximise service efficiency across the country.

According to a Healthcare Commission report, 42 per cent of patients rate the service they receive as 'excellent' - an increase of 4 per cent since 2002. A survey of 76,000 adult in-patients in 165 hospital Trusts in England showed that 77 per cent of people being treated in the best performing Trusts thought they had received an excellent standard of care. This figure is significantly lower amongst patients in the lowest performing trusts with only 24 per cent giving their standard of care the same rating.

"It's encouraging that a steadily increasingly percentage of patients say care is 'excellent.' It's good to see advances on issues like the quality of food, waiting times and team working between doctors and nurses," said Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, who explained that the NHS is still failing to deliver in some areas of healthcare. 'It's crucial that Trusts take this information on board. The patient voice must be heard loudly on the boards of Trusts across the country."

Waiting times for 15 key diagnostic tests in the UK, including colonoscopies, audiology assessments and ultrasounds have fallen by 97 per cent in two years. However, the Department of Health said that treatment times for NHS patients remain at an unacceptable level. It began monitoring the situation more closely in April 2008 by compiling ëreferral to treatment' data.

Care services minister, Ivan Lewis, said: ìSome patients experience long waits for treatment and we have made it clear that the NHS will not be credible in claiming success on 18 weeks if it does not make excellent progress in tackling these waits.î

A new NHS reform bill has been included in the government's draft legislative programme that aims to address problems with the standard of NHS care. Improvements to clinical departments will be dictated by recommendations from the Next Stage Review which calls for healthcare providers to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of patients and local communities.

Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, called 2008, the 60th anniversary of the organisation, a 'momentous year' for the NHS, the 60th which will see the beginning of a wide-spread push to raise the level of healthcare services in the UK.

14th May 2008

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