Andrew Lansley has given further details of his plans for the NHS in his first major public speech as health secretary.

Mr Lansley said his priorities were for patients to be “at the heart of everything we do”; to focus on outcomes rather than “politically-motivated process targets, measuring inputs or constant changes to structures”; to empower professionals; to improve public health “as a society”; and to reform social care and better integrate it with healthcare.

Mr Lansley reiterated his commitment to autonomy in the NHS. He said he would “disempower myself, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and a hierarchy and bureaucracy that has too often been the focus of the NHS”.

Mr Lansley also said:

  • Clinicians in different specialities should follow cardiac surgeons in publishing information about their performance, and more data will be made public.
  • He will promote a patient safety culture including “zero tolerance” of healthcare associated infections, rather than targets to reduce them.
  • He is opposed to a legal duty of candour on professionals to own up when they have made errors, including to their patient. “I’m not sure we should feel the only way we can achieve that [patient safety] culture is by legislation,” he said.
  • He will make an announcement soon on how the NHS can learn more from the appalling emergency care, uncovered last year, at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. It has been reported that the government will this week announce a full public inquiry into the failings, which campaigners have been calling for.
  • He wants to rename local involvement networks to Health Watch, give them greater powers, and create a national Health Watch. But he said he wanted continuity from the existing networks, which were created in 2008 to replace public and patient involvement forums.

Mr Lansley was speaking at an event hosted by patient groups National Voices and the Patients Association at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre, East London, today.