John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the publication today of the ‘NHS Outcomes Framework 2011/12’, said:
“This is a licence to let the NHS run down. Andrew Lansley has lost sight of patients. He’s taken away the treatment guarantees Labour set out in waiting-time targets, and he’ll put no other commitment on treatment for patients in place for 2 years. The Tory-led Government is building in the incentive to run down the NHS to make things look better after that. It is a signal to let waiting-times and treatments slip.
“Basing better service planning on “outcomes” is a good principle. But what the Tory-led Government is proposing is dishonest. It is dropping current NHS service targets now, and only setting up the measurements next year, with fresh service indicators the year after that.
“Andrew Lansley talks of ‘delivering health outcomes’ and looking ‘only to set the direction of travel for the NHS’. This is management-speak which will mean nothing to patients who want to know how long before an ambulance arrives after the 999 call, and how long they will have to wait for test results or operations.
“Labour’s tough targets for the NHS were the service guarantees for patients. Andrew Lansley is taking those guarantees away and allowing the NHS to slip backwards. In the summer, he axed the maximum 18-week wait for a hospital operation, and waiting-times are already going up. He’s now abolished the 19-minute ambulance response time for 999 emergencies which are not life-threatening, so there’s an open-ended wait for an elderly person falling on ice and fracturing an arm, or a youngster breaking a leg on the football field.
“The Tory-led Government should keep the current targets in place until their new ones are ready. Otherwise, standards will slip and patients will find they’re waiting longer for the tests, treatment and operations they need. Andrew Lansley is getting lost in the world of NHS management and has lost sight of patients. He’s axed waiting-time targets that give patients a guarantee on NHS service. He’s forcing the NHS through a massive £3 billion internal reorganisation when this money is needed for treating patients. And now he’s creating the incentive to allow standards to slip, while he takes two years to set new yardsticks for judging how well the NHS is doing.”