Is this an admission that their predecessors were unbalanced and useless?

The Department of Health intends to develop 'the most balanced and useful set of NHS performance indicators possible from the most relevant and reliable performance information'.

You could be forgiven for asking what its aim has been hitherto in publishing ever more elaborate sets of performance indicators. Were they not intended to be 'balanced and useful'? Were they not drawn from data purporting to be 'relevant and reliable'?

Many in the NHS who had to rescue their organisations' reputations after the indicators' publication might answer 'no' to both questions. So it is welcome news that the DoH is consulting on what should be included in future.

Performance indicators have been a growth industry in recent years, with unofficial sets of questionable value winning more attention than they deserve. Therefore this exercise needs to aim for consensus and produce the gold standard of standards.