Most NHS trusts 'need to improve'Watchdog grades all 570 trusts in England

12 October 2006

 

A damning report has branded more than half of England's NHS trusts only weak or fair in the services they provide or the way they manage taxpayers' money.

The Healthcare Commission’s first Annual Health Check report, published today, replaces the old star ratings system.

It grades all 570 trusts in England. These cover NHS hospitals, mental health providers, ambulance services and primary care trusts (PCTs) and all were measured on a four-point scale from ‘excellent’ to ‘weak’ for both quality of services and use of their financial resources.

The report revealed that 60 per cent of the trusts were weak or fair, and needed to improve, in either their use of resources or their quality of service.

Weak

Overall, 24 trusts were ranked as weak in both areas.

The commission said it wants immediate action plans delivered within 30 days from those 24 trusts which included Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The figures also revealed that 8 per cent of PCTs were weak on quality of services while 59 per cent were fair.

Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker said there were examples of good work but the ‘NHS does need to raise its game’.

Two trusts excellent

Which? Principal Policy Adviser Frances Blunden said: ‘This new system goes a good way to painting a richer picture of the quality of health services in England. However, as a patient, you have to work hard to find the practical information needed.

‘The bottom line is that consumers are funding these services and they want to know they are receiving value for money.’

Just two trusts were ranked as excellent in both areas - the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London, which is a specialist cancer trust, and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

'Patients will suffer'

The report showed that 37 per cent of the 570 trusts (210) had failed to manage their financial resources for the year ending March 31 and were listed as weak.

Ms Walker said: ‘It is no secret that the NHS has struggled with finances over the past year. But this assessment shows it is not only deficits that are the problem. It shows that many organisations do not have adequate financial systems in place. Patients' care will suffer in the end if this is not put right.'