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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 13:39 GMT


Health

A brief history of NHS performance tables

Frank Dobson is reviewing the process

Performance indicators were introduced by the Conservatives in 1993 to monitor services in schools, local authorities, the police and National Health Service.

Labour is continuing the policy now it is in government, but is looking at the tables closely to see if there are ways they can be improved.

This year they included a number of new performance indicators - breast cancer mortality, waiting times for accident and emergency departments, cancelled operations, hospital admissions and outpatient appointments.

Complaints against hospitals are another new addition to this year's tables, along with indicators on care of the elderly, and delayed discharges of patients.

Criticism

In 1995 the tables were criticised by professional associations as pointless and misleading after ranking some of the country's leading hospitals among the worst performers.

In June Health Secretary Frank Dobson announced the introduction of mortality league tables to be published annually from next spring.

The move followed the scandal at Bristol Royal Infirmary where 29 babies died and four more were brain damaged during heart operations between 1988 and 1995.

Similar mortality tables introduced in Scotland in 1994 by the last Government caused an outcry, with doctors warning that the tables were misleading and would deter patients from getting treatment.

Local authority tables, which include the fire service, were introduced three years ago and cover all council services from recycling rubbish to council tax collection.





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