Peter Edwards assesses the latest Chief Executive Barometer

A surprising feature of this month’s Chief Executive Barometer is that 80 per cent of respondents expect to undertake more activity this year than last.

This sits uncomfortably with comments from politicians and commissioners indicating more activity should be moved out of hospitals and undertaken closer to patients’ homes.

The challenge of maintaining quality while delivering recurring cost savings also features. Chief executives were significantly more confident of maintaining the quality of services over the next 12 months than over the next two years. This suggests that the relentless requirement to deliver cost improvement plans year on year may take its toll next year, or that the savings required will be greater than can be delivered without compromising quality.

There isn’t a high level of confidence in the ability of commissioners to carry out their roles effectively. It will be interesting to see the trend for this question in subsequent polls as clinical commissioning groups take on increasing responsibility.

The Francis report into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is looming with more than 90 per cent of respondents expecting it to have a significant impact on how the hospital sector operates and is perceived.

Finally, on the question of whether Jeremy Hunt will do a better job than Andrew Lansley as health secretary, the jury is still out.

We eagerly await seeing how opinions change once Mr Hunt has been tested by the Francis report’s publication and a spate of acute service reconfiguration proposals.

Peter Edwards is senior partner at Capsticks.

Hospital activity 'will rise'