The quality of a patient’s care will become the central focus of the National Health Service in England, with hospitals and care
teams rewarded for achieving high standards.
Patients will be given a new legal right to choose their GP practice and the kind of treatment they will receive under a draft NHS constitution, launched on the 60th anniversary of the state-funded service.
Approval of newly launched drugs will be speeded up to reduce the so-called “post code lottery” where patients get different treatments depending on where they live.
The measures were announced as part of a major review into the future of the health service in England conducted by surgeon and Health Minister Lord Darzi.
“We must have an unwavering, unrelenting, unprecedented focus on quality,” said Health Secretary Alan Johnson.
“We will legislate so that all providers of NHS services will be required by law to publish ‘Quality Accounts’ just as they publish financial accounts.”
Patients will be able to use these quality reports to help them choose where to go for treatment.
Hospitals and other providers would also be given financial bonuses for reaching top quality standards.
The government’s former national targets on areas like reducing waiting lists would be phased out, with responsibility for delivering quality care devolved to regional health authorities.
Influential medical journal the Lancet praised Darzi for proposing a “cultural shift” in the NHS, which employs 1.3m people in England and will spend more than 100bn pounds next year.