The NHS Outcomes Framework is set out in a consultation document Transparency in outcomes - a framework for the NHS. It will consist of a set of national outcome goals to help give an indication of the overall performance of the Service, as well as provide a mechanism by which the Health Secretary can hold the new independent NHS Commissioning Board to account for securing improved health outcomes.
“It is about determining how the success of the NHS should be judged and, therefore, the success of the government in delivering our vision for healthcare,” the Department of Health said, and added that it should act as a catalyst for driving quality across all services. But it was also quick to stress that the new framework will not be used as a tool to performance manage providers of care.
In response to concerns that the new Outcomes Framework will lead to increased bureaucracy, a Department of Health spokesperson said:
'Through the consultation on today's Outcomes Framework, we are seeking to identify around 30 outcomes that broadly measure the performance of the whole NHS. This is a significant reduction on the 100 narrow process targets currently measured.The White Paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’ published on 12 May, details how power will be devolved from Whitehall to patients and professionals.
'Information to support the vast majority of the potential outcome indicators put forward today (in the Annex to the consultation document) is already collected by the NHS. At present there are over 260,000 data returns from NHS organisations to the Department of Health, but these still leave vast gaps where no data at all is collected on NHS performance.
'We want the NHS to collect data only where it is useful and meaningful to clinicians and patients, and where it helps the NHS to improve services for patients. We are consulting precisely because we want to hear from patients, health professionals and the public about what matters to them.'