Published: 21/11/2002, Volume II2, No. 5832 Page 4

Prime minister Tony Blair commended the efforts of health service managers at the 21st HSJ Health Management Awards on Monday.

Mr Blair told over 400 managers and health policy experts assembled at the London Hilton Hotel that he recognised they were 'vital' to the health service. He also acknowledged that managers work in very difficult circumstances - 'many of them of our making'.

Mr Blair announced the winner of the prime minister's award for healthcare management, chosen from the 11 category winners, as Peterborough Hospital trust's direct cataract service.

Asked by organisational development manager Bill Stephenson why the scheme had won, Mr Blair flagged up the way it made good use of opticians.Under the scheme, opticians give patients an appointment for surgery and the number of hospital visits is reduced.