Health Check reveals NHS trust failingsSome trusts still neglecting basics, says Which?

18 October 2007

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The annual review of all NHS trusts in England has exposed ‘disgraceful’ failings in the NHS, Which? says today.

That's our damning verdict on the performance ratings for all NHS trusts in England, published today by the Healthcare Commission.

This is the second Annual Health Check - previously trusts got star ratings. The Health Check examines trusts' quality of services and their financial management.

Weak trusts

The independent watchdog said it noted with concern that 33 trusts (8%) were rated ‘weak’ on quality of services. Of these, 20 were ‘weak’ on both service and financial management - four of them for two years running.

Overall, 26% of the trusts were ‘weak’ on managing finances.

But the Healthcare Commission said that this year’s results show clear improvement, with more trusts scoring ‘excellent’, as well as fewer scoring ‘fair’ and ‘weak’. One in three trusts improved on quality of services and a similar number did so on financial management.

'Disgraceful'

However, Which? feels the report shows that fundamental aspects of patient care – such as cleanliness, dignity and respect and the management of patients’ records – are still being neglected.

Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden said: ‘It is staggering that four trusts have been identified as failing every year for the past three years - including poor ratings under the previous star system - and it is disgraceful that so many NHS trusts should still fail to meet basic minimum standards of patient care.’

Which? is also questioning the relevance of the Health Check to patients as the overall performance of a trust is often at odds with the conditions in specific wards.

Our latest research - a poll of more than 800 people in August - also shows that 58 per cent of patients said the Annual Health Check data are too general, while 47 per cent said the report didn’t tell them what they needed to know.

'Start listening'

Frances Blunden added: ‘What does it matter to a patient that their trust is performing well as a whole if conditions on their ward are filthy, the food they are being served up is inedible or they are being treated by staff who apparently don’t care?

‘Hospitals must start listening to the concerns of patients if they are to address the fundamental failings in the care they provide.’