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Health Health

Take rapid action against poor patient outcomes

Last updated: 01:00pm 16 May 2019

…and where there is clear evidence of poor patient outcomes, we will take rapid corrective action.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.68

Our verdict

Healthcare is a devolved matter in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, so this pledge refers only to NHS England. Monitoring of NHS England patient outcomes is ongoing, with the NHS Outcomes Framework publishing updates on its indicators four times each year.

Although the government has an oversight role, NHS England is responsible for taking remedial action to improve patient outcomes. This needs to be taken into account when looking for “action” by the government.

We can’t find evidence that the government has taken action to correct particular negative outcomes. However, some steps have been taken with a view to fulfilling this pledge.

The main mechanism the government uses to direct NHS England is its yearly mandate, a series of objectives the service is required to fulfil. The most recent mandate references patient outcomes several times.

One target directs NHS England to:

“Work with NHS Improvement…using data on adverse outcomes as a catalyst for positive change”.

Did this have a concrete result?

NHS Improvement is a monitoring body which, following publication of the mandate, began a process of closer integration with NHS England, the goal being to improve the ability of NHS England to recognise and respond to poor patient outcomes.

The government has exercised its oversight powers, and its monitoring role means it is in a position to respond to adverse outcomes should they arise.

We believe it’s fair to say this pledge is ‘in progress’. To move it to ‘done’ we would need to see government interceding in response to clear evidence of poor patient outcomes in particular instances. Follow this policy to stay up to date.

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There's always room for debate

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