Press release -

Department of Health (National): Focus on outcomes to improve quality of patient care

Today’s publication of the first NHS Outcomes Framework marks the beginning of a new era of patient care. In the future the NHS will focus relentlessly on those outcomes that matter most to patients and in doing so will harness the energy and motivation of all healthcare professionals. The NHS has the potential to achieve health outcomes that are among the best in the world.

The NHS Outcomes Framework is the first of its kind for the NHS, moving the focus on to the issues that patients care about most, and away from centrally driven process targets that get in the way of patient care. The framework follows the NHS White Paper and the consultationTransparency in outcomes – a framework for the NHS.

Refined on an annual basis to ensure that it reflects what matters most to patients, the framework will provide a national overview of what the NHS will aim for when improving patient outcomes. Subject to Parliamentary approval, it will also be used to hold the NHS Commissioning Board to account for the outcomes it secures for patients through overseeing the commissioning process to be led locally by GP commissioning consortia.

The framework sets the direction of travel for improving quality and encourages a change in culture and behaviour, with a renewed focus on tackling inequalities in outcomes in five areas:

  • preventing people from dying prematurely;
  • enhancing the quality of life for people with long-term conditions;
  • helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury;
  • ensuring that people have a positive experience of care; and
  • ensuring people are treated in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

In addition to this, proposals for a Public Health Outcomes Framework are also published today to complement the NHS Framework, and will set out how society, government and individuals share collective responsibility to improve and protect the health of the population.

The recent White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People, set out an overarching ambition for public health in the future and put local personalisation at the heart of the new system. The consultation,Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Transparency in Outcomes, looks at five areas to:

  • protect the population’s health from major emergencies;
  • tackle factors which affect health and wellbeing and health inequalities;
  • help people to live healthy lifestyles and make healthy choices;
  • prevent ill health; and
  • prevent people from dying prematurely.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“Our ambition is to achieve health outcomes at least as good as any in the world. To achieve this, we need to focus on outcomes and their robust, continuing measurement. Our focus on improving health outcomes will give the NHS, public health organisations and local government a benchmark for what the public expects to see from their health services.

“The NHS Outcomes Framework will provide patients with a clear national indication of how the NHS is working to improve the quality of service it already gives, and address the inequalities seen in health outcomes.

“Public Health is everyone’s business and through the consultation on the Public Health Outcomes Framework, people will have the chance to comment on our plans for how success will be judged.

“These are important changes that will be far reaching and I urge everyone who has a view to take part.”

A new strategic approach to quality and outcomes in adult social care was also published for consultation on 16 November.

Notes to editors

  1. The NHS Outcomes Framework and the formal Government response to the consultationTransparency in outcomes – a framework for the NHS can be found at:
  2. The NHS Outcomes Framework has three main objectives:

a) To provide an overview of how well the NHS performs, where possible in an international context;

b) To provide an accountability mechanism by which the Secretary of State for Health can hold the proposed NHS Commissioning Board to account for the outcomes it secures for patients; and

c) To act as a catalyst for quality improvement and outcome measurement throughout the NHS.

  1. The indicators used to hold NHS organisations to account during 2011/12 were set out in the recently published The Operating Framework for the NHS in England in 2011/12 which provided the financial, business and planning rules that support the delivery of NHS priorities.

  1. The consultation on the Public Health Outcomes consultation Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Transparency in Outcomes, - Proposals for a Public Health Outcomes Framework, can be found at:

  1. White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People: our strategy for public health in England, can be found at:

  1. For further information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.


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