Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Mechanisms to maintain standards
The mechanisms will force doctors to acknowledge guidance
Standards will be monitored in the "new NHS" through three new mechanisms.
The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) will be a new statutory body providing an independent assessment of local action to improve quality.
As such, it has been christened "Ofsick" in some quarters.
Headed by a new Director of Health Improvement, the commission will visit all trusts in a rolling review programme to ensure that robust clinical governance arrangements are in place locally and that NICE guidance is consistently implemented throughout the NHS.
It will oversee a range of national external clinical audits which, for the first time, all hospital doctors will be required to participate in.
The commission will also act as a 'troubleshooter' in tackling serious difficulties.
Where there is failure to act to put local problems right or where public confidence in services has been seriously compromised, the health secretary can send the commission into a hospital to take urgent action and report to ministers on remedial action needed.
A National Framework for Assessing Performance will judge how well each part of the NHS delivers quality services.
It will focus on six key areas:
Its findings will be published to allow hospitals - and the public - to compare performance.
Ministers also plan to publish progressively more detailed clinical information comparing hospital performance for a range of conditions.
The National Survey of Patient and User Experience will provide annual feedback on the public's view of the service provided.