NHS organisations in England can now analyse their performance against the government’s 18-week wait target using a new service launched by NHS Comparators.

The service also provides information from other NHS organisations so users can see how their organisation is performing in comparison to others.

New sets of information added to the online service this month give a range of 18 week referral-to-treatment (RTT) measures: the percentage of RTTs completed in 18 weeks; median RTT times achieved; number of weeks within which a percentage of RTT treatments are completed and the average number of ‘events’ per RTT period.

By December 2008 all non-urgent NHS patients should start their hospital treatment within 18 weeks of their GP referring them. Information to support managers in reaching the reaching the target is vital.

It is hoped that the 18 week RTT information on NHS Comparators (nww.nhscomparators.nhs.uk – NHSnet connection needed) will prove useful to all NHS organisations, but particularly those with older patient administration systems.

Dr Phil Collins of the Secondary Uses Service (SUS) explained to E-Health Insider: “It’s an interim solution to allow people to have a better visibility of where they are.”

As a product from the SUS, the NHS Comparators service is, by definition, retrospective, making use of data already gathered. Dr Collins says: “We are playing back national data but it is checked and cleared and cleaned.”

He emphasises that SUS data is not intended for clinical use or for supporting day-to-day operational work. Arrangements still need to be made locally for solutions that, for example, give detailed information about where patients are in clinical pathways or provide alerts when targets are about to missed.

NHS Comparators had a soft launch in May-June 2007 and now has around 3,700 users. It is hoped that the user community will grow as the information available expands.

The service includes comparator information on a range of subjects including elective and non-elective admissions and outpatients. Each subject area includes a menu of information on specific areas; for example, comparators in the non-elective menu show non-elective admissions for the defined group of 19 ambulatory care sensitive conditions.

NHS Comparators is available to all GP practices, SHAs, PCTs, NHS trusts, and other relevant organisations. NHS staff who wish to register should e-mail enquiries@ic.nhs.uk or call the NHS Information Centre’s contact centre on 0845 300 6016 to request log-in details.

Related article:

Special Report: Technology to deliver the 18 week wait