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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Watchdog hails NHS culture change
HCI
The HCI hospital in Clydebank, one of 22 studied by the watchdog
Safeguards to protect NHS patients are tougher than at any time in the history of the service, according to a watchdog.

NHS Quality Improvement Scotland conducted checks on 22 health boards in response to a drop in public confidence in the health service.

Watchdog chairman Lord Narel Patel said its report found that the NHS was "putting its house in order".

There had been a significant culture change within the service, he added.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank was included in the study.

NHS Scotland is putting in place more robust and coherent safeguards of the quality of patient care
Lord Patel
NHS Quality Scotland

The watchdog said the board received performance monitoring reports on target patient numbers and financial targets from the national waiting times centre.

"However, there was no evidence of the hospital's ongoing monitoring of performance around all of the objectives identified in the health plan 2004-2006", the report said.

It called for "a more comprehensive and robust approach" to be taken by the hospital to assure "that healthcare governance requirements were being fulfilled".

'Culture change'

The watchdog body said "a significant culture change" within the NHS was under way after public confidence was dented by organ retention scandals in Bristol and Liverpool.

Lord Patel said: "Until recently, the public took it for granted that the care provided by the NHS was safe, effective and of a high quality.

"Their confidence has been shaken and the public now want to be informed about risks and options and to be involved in making decisions about their care."

He added: "What our report has now found is that the health service is putting its house in order and NHS Scotland is putting in place more robust and coherent safeguards of the quality of patient care than at any time in the history of the service.

Operation
The Tories say NHS reform is crucial to improving healthcare

"This is a significant culture shift that reflects the recent change in public perceptions and expectations."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives' leader, David McLetchie, has said that empowering patients is the best way of creating a more effective NHS.

A national tariff-based system to provide a standard price for different NHS treatment was an "essential first step".

Mr McLetchie said he was unsure whether the executive was committed to NHS reform or merely paying lip service to change.

Speaking during a Holyrood debate on the recently published Kerr report, the Tory leader said the NHS was failing its patients because it was a "centrally-run, state monopoly".

Under Professor David Kerr's recommendations, patients will have to travel to specialist hospitals for most surgery.

'Pro-reform'

A new network of community hospitals will also see treatment delivered by GPs, nurses and paramedics.

Mr McLetchie said: "No matter how well intentioned or intelligent the people doing the planning, without the necessary information they will find it impossible to meet the need of patients."

He said giving patients greater power was the best way of creating a fairer NHS.

"That means putting funding into the hands of patients and enabling them, in conjunction with their GPs, to purchase healthcare from the provider of their choice."

But Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin dismissed the Tories' policies.

Ms Brankin said the NHS faced many challenges including an ageing population, chronic disease and a growth in emergency admissions.

"We are pro-reform, we're pro-diversity of provision and pro-patient choice," she went on.


SEE ALSO:
Minister hails NHS wait figures
26 May 05 |  Scotland
Report reveals NHS overhaul plans
25 May 05 |  Scotland
What do you want from the NHS?
25 May 05 |  Scotland


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