The Department of Health has published its first report on progress against its 2007 public service agreement and departmental strategic objectives.

The commitments include meeting the government’s referral-to-treatment and MRSA reduction targets and addressing health inequalities.

Health secretary Alan Johnson, in a foreword to the report, published today, said the NHS had made “major progress” towards the 18 weeks referral to treatment target.

“The latest data on elective care shows that most strategic health authorities are already meeting the commitment.

“Nine out of 10 SHAs achieved the non-admitted operational standard and seven out of 10 SHAs achieved the admitted operational standard in September 2008.

“The NHS has also successfully halved the number of MRSA infections. MRSA rates have fallen by 57 per cent against the 2003-04 baseline figure.”

Health inequalities

The gap in the all-age all-cause mortality rate between spearhead primary care trust areas and the national average is reported as a measure of progress in combating health inequalities.
The baseline 1995-97 gap was 142.3 deaths per 100,000 for males and 75.5 for females.

For the period 2005-07 it has dropped to 124.1 for males, but risen slightly to 76.1 for females.

Mr Johnson said: “We need to give everyone the best chance of leading a healthy life through, for example, reducing smoking prevalence, halting and then turning around rises in child obesity, combating excess alcohol use and increasing the opportunity for people to direct the support they receive on social care.

“These are major challenges that will require concerted effort from across government at national, regional and local level.”