The Department of Health has set out how NHS organisations should move towards measuring and improving quality of care.

Chief executive David Nicholson and medical director Sir Bruce Keogh have written to managers with a framework describing the role different organisations will play.

The DH said a "new generation" of indicators of quality would emerge at organisational, regional and national levels.

An online consultation is being run on a list of around 400 metrics that are already used.

Staff are being asked to comment on the usefulness of each indicator and suggest other measures they may already use.

The document sent to managers, Measuring for Quality Improvement: the approach, asks strategic health authorities to report on what is happening in their region at the end of January. It also gives updates on initiatives including quality accounts.

Health minister Lord Darzi said: "We can only improve the quality of care we give to patients if we constantly and methodically measure it.

"Developing a set of quality indicators in partnership with frontline staff will allow clinicians to measure their team's performance in a constant strive to improve and compare it with their peers across the NHS.

"These indicators will soon become a resource to challenge and stimulate NHS staff to drive up standards in healthcare.

"I want NHS staff to work together to develop useful and meaningful measures of their work. This will help improve the entire patient experience by delivering safer and more effective care."