The NHS maintained or improved performance in 2011/12 against a range of indicators outlined in the NHS Operating Framework, the Secretary of State’s Annual Report says.
The report noted that the “NHS has performed well” over the last twelve months whilst meeting the first stage of its efficiency savings target.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said NHS staff across England have “maintained or improved quality while making significant cost savings and preparing for the transition to the new system”.
The annual report has been published a year earlier than required by law. The move was made by the Health Secretary to allow Parliament and the public to see the “direction the NHS is heading”, the Department of Health said.
It found that 212 CCGs are now on their way to being authorised by January next year. Also, as of April this year, there were 144 Foundation Trusts (FT), with 104 trusts remaining in the FT pipeline. Of these, only 18 trusts were not making progress towards gaining FT status and were in discussions with the DH to “develop recovery plans and progress towards sustainable, high-quality services”.
In future, the report will analyse the performance of the NHS against the three outcomes frameworks – NHS, public health and adult social care. As these are still being developed, it focused on “key achievements” during 2011/12.
It found that the QIPP agenda had generated savings of £5.8 billion; more than 12,500 patients had accessed the Cancer Drugs Fund; maximum waiting times for diagnosed and suspected cancer patients were met; and more people with diabetes are now being offered diabetic retinopathy screening than ever before.
Despite the structural reforms to the NHS, cost-cutting measures and the rationing of services, the report included data from a recent MORI poll which found that nearly three-quarters (73%) agreed that England had one of the best national health services – the highest level ever recorded.
Andrew Lansley said that performance data has “undoubtedly been positive”, but there were a number of “significant challenges” facing the health service. “Compared to other countries we continue to lag on performance on some key outcomes including life expectancy for women, cancer survival, and conditions related to obesity,” he said.
To meet “continued pressure” on finances, Lansley said there will need to be “sustained efforts to ensure that every penny of public money is spent as effectively as possible, delivering the best possible outcomes for patients.”
Future annual reports are expected to be published in October to allow Arm’s Length Bodies time to publish their own reports and accounts for the financial year.