Christmas may seem like a distant memory, but it’s worth recalling that the North of England went home for the break with a big gold star on its Department of Health report card.

The NHS’s second quarterly report showed the North had made the strongest progress to date on the service’s £20bn savings target.

In the first six months of 2011-12 the region reportedly made 47 per cent of its hefty £1.6bn savings target for the year, five percentage points higher than performance across England as a whole.

But some organisations in the North West will have been less cheered by the report. Aintree University Hospitals was singled out as a “potential negative outlier” in the 2010-11 patient reported outcome measures scores, for its knee replacements.

Countess of Chester Hospital FT was among the top 10 acutes in the country for referral-to-treatment waiting times in the first half of this financial year. But nearby Wirral University Teaching Hospitals FT was in the bottom 10, meeting none of the five quality indicators in the report.

Another North West provider that has been having a hard time with waiting times is Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

In December, NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale reported that 250 patients who had been waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment at Pennine Acute would be sent to private sector providers. The report noted the provider had been meeting the target for admitted patients in 2010-11, but performance fell off in April and had not recovered by the end of October.

A report to the board said a “detailed recovery plan” had been submitted to the SHA and “specific improvement trajectories for reduction of the 18-week backlog” agreed with PCTs.