Health Check reveals some improvement, but poor progress on efficiency and choice is worrying

Speaking in response to the results of the annual health check released by the Healthcare Commission, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'This is the second year the health check has used these measurements, and it allows us to track progress. It shows that overall some improvement has been made, which has to be good news. But if we are to create a first-class health system this trend will have to be built on and indeed accelerated.

'It is of particular concern that one in four trusts are classified as 'weak' when it comes to the efficient use of resources and more than a third are classified as only 'fair'.

'In the King's Fund report, Our Future Health Secured? A review of NHS funding and performance, published in September, we emphasised that good management together with efficient use of staff and budgets were essential if we are to achieve a world-class health service.

'The days of massive spending rises are coming to an end – that makes improved productivity absolutely key to better services. Low productivity threatens the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

'The health check also reveals poor standards of hygiene in too many hospitals; the Commission is right that this is a priority for patients and should be more of a priority in many NHS trusts.

'Worryingly, this report indicates that too many patients are still not being given choice about how and where they are treated. It is clear that primary care trusts are struggling to make choice a reality under the current system and more attention must be paid to this.

'Reports like this are useful in giving patients and others information about performance and standards but that is just the first step. Only when patients are given the power to use the information to decide, along with their practitioner, what is best for them will the NHS be able to say it is delivering truly personalised care.'

He added: 'The relative success of foundation trusts is encouraging. The process by which trusts can obtain foundation status is functioning well and needs to continue, with more trusts around the country aspiring to these standards.'

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.
  3. Download a free copy of Our Future Health Secured? A review of NHS funding and performance