NHS England is testing an online dashboard that allows clinical commissioning groups to compare the quality of outcomes for key patient groups.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the tool this morning at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool.
He said he wanted England to be “truly one of the first countries in the world to try understand the quality of whole patient care of an entire patient pathway – primary secondary and social care – where it’s working and isn’t working”.
The dashboard compiles different outcome datasets to assess the quality of care CCGs are providing for the following groups: older people, people with long-term conditions, the generally well, people with mental health problems and mothers and children.
Hunt said that NHS England and the Department of Health are working with the King’s Fund to determine what metrics should make up the dashboard, mentioning they are looking at existing best practice standards in Sweden and the US.
He said that for every group, three key factors will be access to care, quality of care and prevention.
“It’s about looking at the whole patient pathway and bringing the same transparency and efficiency and accountability to the commissioning of healthcare as well as to the provision of healthcare,” he said.
In addition to data on each patient group, the dashboard features two additional areas where performance will be measured.
‘Resilience’ will include information such as a CCG’s ability to prepare for spikes in care, such as over winter, while ‘transformation’ is a sign of the CCG’s work to prepare for the future of healthcare, such as implementing electronic health records.
“It’s important that we have a transformation metric that recognises the progress in these key areas as well, even if they are not going to be immediately apparent in terms of improved care for patients,” Hunt said.
The health secretary also argued that the dashboard will be an “absolutely vital intervention” for the plan announced yesterday by NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens to turn underperforming areas into ‘success regimes’.
These will get extra central support from national bodies such as the Care Quality Commission and Monitor.
However, he also confirmed Stevens’ comment yesterday that there will be no extra money for the NHS this year to support trusts in deficit; even though NHS Providers has been warning that trusts could be facing a deficit of as much as £2.5 billion by the end of the year.
Instead, he emphasised that NHS organisations will have to look at ways to drive efficiencies for the moment, including limiting spending on agency staff – a priority also mentioned by Stevens.
Responding to a question from the audience, Hunt said: “It is the NHS’ turn to engage with making sure we are living this year within our means.”
He also argued politicians had done their bit by promising an extra £8 billion towards Stevens’ ‘Five Year Forward View’ during the general election campaign, with this endorsed by taxpayers deciding to return the Conservatives to power.
Earlier in his speech Hunt mentioned that trusts will receive support on how to find efficiency savings through Lord Carter’s report on best practice in procurement, which is due to be published this year.
He said that some of the findings were “staggering”, such as hospitals paying £13 per box of syringes while other hospitals are paying just £4, and that the NHS needed to share data to understand the potential savings of improving procurement processes.
“By September, [Lord Carter] will share sum of money that he estimates you could save in your trust if you adopt these practices.”
In addition, Hunt used his speech to announce the launch of a ‘hospital chains’ model to support isolated locations and improve the sharing best practice between hospitals. The first four chains in this programme will be chosen by NHS England and Monitor by September.
“If you are one of four selected, the government and NHS England will do everything we can to remove obstacles in your path to develop those chains.”