From targets to standards: but not just yet

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7483.106 (Published 13 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:106
  1. Chris Ham (c.j.ham@bham.ac.uk), professor of health policy and management
  1. Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2RT

    The challenge will be for ministers not to interfere in a regulated service

    The NHS in England marked the fourth anniversary of publication of the NHS Plan1 in July 2004 with the launch of the planning framework for the next three years and the standards that all organisations will be expected to achieve in delivering NHS care.2 The planning framework and standards mark a further stage in the reform of England's NHS and are important as an indication of the Labour government's thinking on priorities for the future and the methods that will be used to bring about change.

    The planning framework sets out priorities in four areas: access to services, long term conditions, the health of the population, and the experience of patients or users. In each area national targets are identified for 2008 (and beyond in the case of the health of the population). These targets are based on the public service agreement negotiated between the Department of Health and the Treasury—with one exception, the aspiration to reduce infections caused by methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The publication of a critical report by the National Audit Office on MRSA3 after release of the public service agreement explains the late addition of this target.

    Three aspects of the …

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