Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 26

Our panel of 50 acute chief executives were asked how confident they were (where 1 is 'no confidence' and 10 is 'total confidence') on a range of issues. The average scores appear below (the score two months ago is in brackets). The poll was taken at the end of June.

Acute trust chief executives' confidence has dipped almost across the board in the last two months, according to the latest HSJ Barometer survey.

The only score that improves on the last survey (page 27, 20 May) is for confidence in the national programme for IT, where the average rose from 5.19 to 5.63. Last time 40 per cent gave a score of four out of 10 or less - this time about a quarter did.

Although confidence in the key 2005 targets is still high, the inpatient waiting-list score fell by more than half a point. On both there were far fewer '10 out of 10' scores.

Similarly, a quarter of respondents rated their confidence about the accident and emergency target at four or below - compared to just 13 per cent in the last survey.

Confidence in primary care trust commissioning fell to 3.73, with only three respondents scoring at seven or above. In contrast more than half scored their PCTs at under four out of 10.

At the same time confidence in their own efforts to improve clinical quality fell from 8.11 to 7.56, the biggest single fall in the survey. Six chief executives scored themselves at below six out of 10 - compared to just two in the last survey (which also had a higher response rate).

Confidence in their financial position fell slightly, with just over a quarter scoring themselves at four out of 10 or less On staffing, there was marked dip in average confidence about nursing numbers - however this was the result of a small number of trusts marking very low, in contrast to a more consistent positivity last time.

Assessing their relative elected activity in June, the number of trusts exceeding their plans rose slightly, although a fifth were doing less than planned. The balance of 15 per cent is half what it was six month ago.

However, activity rose strongly compared to the previous month, with half of all trusts doing more in June than they did in May. Fifty-six per cent said their activity was higher than in June 2003. l