18-week target a priority13th December 2006
Reducing hospital infections and reaching the 18-week target have been identified as major priorities for the NHS over the coming year.
NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson also wants organisations to focus on recovering their financial health and produce a £250m surplus the following year.
The national framework is designed to help local NHS staff shape services around the needs of their local communities and Mr Nicholson wants to establish a greater role for local NHS staff to decide and deliver on local health and healthcare improvement targets and wants targets to be agreed locally for reducing health inequalities, with PCTs working with local authorities to agree priorities and promote health and well-being.
The key priority is that by March 2008, 85 per cent of inpatients and 90 per cent of patients that do not require admission should be treated within 18 weeks.
These figures will increase to all patients by the end of 2008 - failure to meet the targets will mean cuts in payments to hospitals from PCTs.
The framework calls for faster progress to reduce hospital-acquired infections like MRSA and wants local targets to be established between PCTs and health providers to reduce rising levels of Clostridium difficile.
Mr Nicholson said while there are no new national priorities for the NHS, he expects rapid improvements in the areas identified. He also identified the trend towards devolved care allowing more control at local level.
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced £300,000 is to be made available to all trusts for ward level improvements to tackle infection rates alongside the announcement of local targets. These could include toilet refurbishment. Applications must be submitted by 12 January.
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