The NHS will be required to measure and publish outcomes data for all major services by 2015, to enable commissioners and patients to make more informed choices about care providers.
The Department of Health’s mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board includes a tranche of new measures that it hopes will amount to a “revolution in transparency”.
These include a re-announcement of last year’s pledge to allow all patients online access to their GP record by 2015, and a commitment to publish outcomes data, for all major services by 2015, broken down to clinical commissioning group level, and by the organisation providing care.
To support this, the DH has said the NHS must “strengthen quality accounts”, which all providers are legally required to publish to report on the quality of their services.
The commissioning board - which will oversee planning of NHS services from April next year - will also be required to consider “the transformative effect of information and transparency, enabling patients to make fully informed decisions”.
Commissioning board chief executive Sir David Nicholson said a successor to the NHS Choices website was currently under construction, and would provide comparative information on providers’ outcomes, public health and clinical commissioning group performance.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, launching the mandate, said there was regional and local variation in service quality and the NHS needed to review “how you best put pressure on people” to improve.
He said: “It will probably take the full two years to get to the place where this information is relatively gap free because it is such a huge undertaking.
“But what we’re looking for is for someone to put in their postcode, and know how well their hospital does compared to other hospitals, for different types of surgery and operations.
“We also want local CCGs to be able to go and see at the click of a mouse how well they’re doing compared to other areas of a similar demography, and local authorities to see how the health of their area compares to others.”