NHS South West is planning to match the lowest rates in Europe for smoking, cancer, heart disease and stroke deaths and healthcare associated infections.

Its vision document Improving Health: ambitions for the South West, published as part of health minister Lord Darzi's next stage review, also sets out its intention to match the longest life expectancy in Europe. Chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers said: "This is a very ambitious agenda with 70 promises which would transform the lives of people."

He said the strategic health authority would now consult on the plans before asking PCTs to create frameworks, which would be monitored every year by the SHA and in PCTs' annual reports.

Sir Ian said he was keen to continue driving up standards even though the South West has one of the healthiest populations in England. He said: "It's always quite difficult improving on a high score but that's not going to stop us trying."

In its report, published days later, NHS North West pledged to open itself up to public scrutiny by revealing online whether it is achieving the goals set out in its Darzi report.

The SHA has used its vision document, Healthier Horizons for the North West, to create 10 "touchstone tests".

These have measurable outcomes including increasing membership numbers for foundation trusts, improving life expectancy, increasing uptake of choice and reducing waiting times.

The tests have been devised as indicators for achievement of report goals such as tackling health inequalities, boosting clinical quality and involving patients.

NHS North West has promised to reveal its progress on its website. Chief executive Mike Farrar acknowledged the SHA would have to work hard to achieve the targets, but said programmes were mostly in place for this.

"They are challenging," he said. "We have to show a leadership role around some of this but we're not saying the NHS can do this alone."

He said the SHA would offer patients a personalised service and in exchange it would expect the public to think about how it used services.

NHS South Central, which published its vision Towards a Healthier Future on Monday, outlined ambitions in health inequalities, safety, quality and green issues.

Chief executive Jim Easton said PCTs would be held to account by local communities.

"It will be part of mainstream delivery," he said. "It is coherent and compelling at regional level but where it makes real sense is at community level."

Three ambitious and far-reaching visions

South West

  • Match the highest life expectancy in Europe by 2013

  • Match Europe's lowest death rates from cancer, heart disease and stroke

  • Match Europe's lowest smoking levels by 2013

  • Reduce healthcare-associated infections to match Europe's lowest

  • Achieve the highest levels of fruit and vegetable consumption in England

  • Achieve a clear downward trend in childhood obesity by 2013

  • Reduce the gap in life expectancy between the worst and best areas by a third by 2013

  • Complete 90 per cent of diagnostic tests within two weeks by 2011

South Central

  • Every clinical or social care "encounter" to provide an opportunity for prevention as well as treatment

  • Public to be engaged in decision making about priorities - possibly resulting in legitimate geographical variations

  • Faster access to services - including therapy services - for all patients

  • Single point of access to services

  • Key workers for patients nearing the end of their life to co-ordinate care and support them and carers

  • Regular and systematic evaluations of risk of illness to identify the need for preventative care

North West

  • Improve life expectancy by 16 per cent for women and 11 per cent for men by 2010

  • Urgent and out-of-hours elements of primary, secondary and intermediate care to be commissioned in combination with social care

  • Access and availability outside office hours to be determined locally

  • Children's trusts to plan services for children and young people

  • Every woman assigned a named midwife for her pregnancy

  • Personalised budgets for people with some long term conditions

  • 10 "touchstone tests" for the public with results to be published online

HSJ's Implementing Our NHS, Our Future conference is on 8 July, www.hsj-darzi.co.uk