PCTs show improvement in annual health check but a slide in excellence
Primary care trusts have improved their overall performance in the 2008-09 annual health check but have slipped back on achieving excellence.
The results published today by the Care Quality Commission show 15 of the 152 assessed scored better on both quality and financial management than last year, while six scored worse.
The regulator said next year it would not measure commissioning arms on core standards, but would focus on commissioning outcomes
No PCTs were rated double weak this year, compared with three last year. But neither were any PCTs rated double excellent.
NHS Salford, which was rated double excellent last year and is the only PCT to have ever attained top marks, scored fair for quality and good for finance this year.
Karl Brookes, a spokesperson for NHS Salford, said: “When you look at the things that matter most to people like cleanliness, being treated with dignity and keeping the public healthy Salford PCT scored 100 per cent. Whilst waiting times and how well services are run in Salford got near top marks too.”
Three PCTs were rated excellent on quality, compared with nine last year. Four were rated weak - Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, and Tower Hamlets - compared with eight last year.
PCT Network director David Stout said: “All four of these PCTs are commissioning from two London based acute trusts that are also rated weak and not achieving national targets.”
He added: “It is positive to see PCTs’ performance ratings have improved over the past year. It is clear PCTs are heading in the right direction.”
The CQC said this year’s overall rise in national compliance with core standards was mainly due to PCTs. The compliance rate is the highest it has ever been, at 96 per cent.
This is the first time PCTs’ commissioning and provider arms have been assessed separately on compliance with core standards. The CQC said there had been similar results from both arms in most cases. Commissioners were also measured against national priorities and PCTs’ overall quality scores are based on the assessment of commissioning.
The regulator said next year it would not measure commissioning arms on core standards, but would focus on commissioning outcomes, “without duplicating world class commissioning”.
For example, it said it would be focusing on how well PCTs worked with local authorities on such activities as joint strategic needs assessments.
However, as HSJ reported, the introduction of more demanding Audit Commission based assessments on financial management has been reflected in this year’s scores. No PCT scored excellent for financial management this year.
Continuing improvement for Sheffield
NHS Sheffield chief executive Jan Sobieraj puts his organisation’s continuing improvement in the annual health check down to its “sheer bloody hard work” alongside the “balance of partnerships across the system matched with detailed analysis” .
The primary care trust was created in October 2006 from a merger of North Sheffield PCT, Sheffield South West PCT, Sheffield West PCT and Sheffield South East PCT.
This year, for the first time, it has achieved double good scores, following double fair in 2007-08 and double weak in 2006-07.
In 2007 the trust began a five year strategy called “achieving balanced health”, aimed at reducing health inequalities.