New NHS performance measures to be implemented next year

NHS England is to introduce new measures on the performance of a whole healthcare system that will require a “change in mindset” from next year.

Speaking at the NHS Expo conference, Professor Jonathan Benger, national clinical director of urgent and emergency care at NHS England, unveiled a new set of standards the NHS has developed.

At the moment, the key measure of NHS performance is whether 95% of hospital A&E patients are seen within four hours – something the NHS as a whole has failed to meet for years.

Professor Benger criticised the standard itself, saying: “There comes a point where we have to ask whether we are now hitting the target but missing the point, or, in this country now, missing the target but missing the point.”

He added that once providers “maximise the amount of improvement you get from a particular standard”, they start finding “increasingly inventive ways to meet it”.

Eventually, he said, “there’s a very strong risk that every improvement we’ve seen in a number doesn’t really represent an improvement in the way the patient’s looked after, but represents an improvement in the way the measures are calculated to get the right number”.

NHS England recently announced that it is replacing the system-wide targets with individual targets for specific trusts in a bid to help tackle trust deficits.

For full story see National Health Executive 9 September 2016