Speaking in response to the Secretary of State for Health's announcement of a consultation on the hospital star ratings system, King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:
'I am pleased that the government has at last recognised that it needs to reform the star ratings system and rationalise the targets by setting in motion a broad consultation process. The star ratings were a useful first move towards producing performance management information for the NHS, but they held very little that was of any use to the public and The King's Fund believes that they have had their day.
'It is no good knowing that your local hospital has long waiting times, when what you want to know is exactly when your hip operation will be carried out. What people want is information about the things that are important to them, provided in a way that helps them.
'Star ratings are an extraordinarily crude measure for evaluating complex institutions such as hospitals. In some cases they have had the effect of further lowering staff morale. They have also led to absurd situations where high performing departments could be hidden if the hospital achieved a poor ratings score overall.
'I believe that the proposed core standards are an important step towards putting patients first. However, they will need greater definition before they can help both patients and professionals decide whether they are looking at good or bad performance in any specific area. It is vital that the proposed future performance management targets are aspirational, and that they reflect local circumstances.'
Notes to editors
1. For further information, or interviews with King's Fund staff, please contact Sian Evans in the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2632, Michael Moruzzi 020 7307 2585, or Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581.