'Health Check' finds some trusts in poor state

The results of the Healthcare Commission's first annual health check show that many NHS trusts are performing well, but there was room for improvement in more than half the trusts which were told to "raise their game".

The annual health check scored NHS trusts on aspects of their performance including how well they manage their finances and the quality of the services they provide to patients and the public.

The Commission rated two trusts as 'excellent' for both parts of this year's rating: Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust; and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

While 51% of the trusts were ranked as 'fair' for quality of service, 9% were rated as 'weak'. For financial management 47% were 'fair' but 37% were deemed to be 'weak'.

Overall 24 trusts of the 570 assessed were labelled 'weak" in terms of both finance management an quality of service.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt congratulated the NHS for the work done to improve 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."

'Fitness for Purpose' assessments of all Primary Care Trusts is underway.

Today's report examined all trusts which received a 'weak' rating in one or more areas and will have 30 days to set out how they will improve.


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