Published: 10/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5850 Page 11

Out of date Commission for Health Improvement clinical governance reviews are to be reassessed before they are fed into this year's star ratings.

Sixty reviews conducted before August 2002, have been judged to be no longer relevant, and the commission has asked strategic health authorities to examine the progress that trusts have made on their action plans.

CHI will receive reports from SHAs to decide whether to alter the clinical governance review scores which feed into star-ratings.A spokesperson for CHI said it was 'highly unlikely' that scores - which run from I to IV - would be reduced, and it was more likely the device would reflect trusts' improvements in line with their action plans.

The watchdog also revealed that scores from CHI clinical governance reviews of primary care and ambulance trusts would not be incorporated in this year's starratings. The decision reflects the 'organisational immaturity' of PCTs and the fact that ambulance trusts had only recently adopted clinical governance principles.

CHI chief executive Dr Peter Homa (pictured) said: 'In many cases, significant progress is made following the review. It would not be fair or accurate to use outdated scores in calculating star-ratings, where scores no longer properly reflect performance.'

NHS Alliance chief executive Mike Sobanja said: 'I am delighted - but because I do not think the reviews should have anything to do with star ratings. The reviews are supposed be developmental and supportive, not about performance ratings. The two do not fit together.'

The move shows the growing importance of the reviews on the star ratings for which the commission will now have sole responsibility.

Last year Northumbria Healthcare trust lost out on possible foundation status and a possible£1m bonus after being given two stars rather than three because the trust did not come up to scratch in its CHI review.

Under the system any trust could only win three stars if it had no scores in the lowest bracket, I, in its CHI review and at least one score of III. Five trusts were automatically given no stars because they had five scores or more of I, despite their performance being based on the Department of Health balanced score card. Seven trusts with borderline DoH scorecards were promoted to three stars because they got no Is and three scores of III.

This system of feeding CHI review scores into the star-ratings will remain the same this year, the CHI spokesperson confirmed.

'It important to say SHAs are not conducting clinical governance reviews. They will assess organisations against the action plan and check whether they carried through all they were asked to do. A report will go back to CHI and we will make a decision about whether to upgrade clinical governance review scores on the basis of the evidence provided. This is a measure we are taking purely for the star-ratings.'