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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 11:01 GMT
Hospital ratings system 'simpler'
Star ratings assess a hospital's performance
New, simpler, criteria to judge a hospital's performance have been published by an NHS watchdog.

The 'star ratings' system, introduced in 2001, awards hospitals one to three stars depending on how well they have performed in a range of areas.

But to be assessed, hospitals had to collate data over and above that which they needed for routine monitoring.

The Healthcare Commission said it will now cut the number of these special categories from 24 to 10.

I want to ensure that the burden of collecting such information is kept to the minimum
Lord Warner, Health Minister
In total, hospitals will have to provide data for 40 categories rather than 44 - the majority of which are routinely collected.

Star ratings also cover ambulance, mental health and primary care trusts, who will also benefit from the changes.

Next year will be the last in which star ratings are awarded.

The Healthcare Commission is holding a major public consultation on how healthcare organisations should be assessed in the future.


Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker said: "We are committed to producing a credible annual assessment of NHS organisation's performance.

"This year we will help ease the burden of data collection on trusts by reducing the number of special requests for information that trusts do not already routinely report.

"This is the final year of performance ratings in their current format.

"We want to hear from everyone how they would like to see healthcare organisations assessed in the future."

The Department of Health also announced it was also reducing the amount of data it required trusts to provide on a regular basis, not connected to star ratings.

It said a total of 61 central data collections will be stopped or cut, saving around 7.6m in administration costs.

Lord Warner said: "Data collection has an important role to play in the NHS.

"But some information that Trusts are being asked to provide to the centre is being collected too frequently or being duplicated, while some of the information relates to local issues which the department does not need to monitor.

"I want to ensure that the burden of collecting such information is kept to the minimum, freeing up time for the NHS locally to focus on patient care, rather than filling in forms and ticking boxes."

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said "We are delighted with these measures, which will be welcomed across the NHS.

"We have long called for a reduction in central reporting requirements and these measures will free time and resources to focus on improvements in patient care."

But Sue Slipman, director of the Foundation Trust Network, said: "Just six months into their existence, foundation trusts have already been besieged by information requests from a variety of sources. "

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