The Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, has announced the appointment of expert groups to come up with national “care blueprints” for cardiac and mental health services, as part of a series of measures to raise standards.
The National Service Frameworks, a response to what the Government calls “too much” variation in the standard of healthcare around the country, will specify what type of services should be available in primary care, local hospitals and specialist centres. It will also outline an acceptable quality of standards across the NHS.
To ensure that standards are being met, the new Commission for Health Improvement will have powers to visit every hospital on a rolling annual programme. A director will be appointed to lead the commission, who will have executive powers to organise investigations into specific trusts and will be able to recommend to the Health Secretary that teams of nurses, doctors and managers are sent in to take over the running of failing NHS Trusts.
In addition, a National Institute of Clinical Excellence will be established to provide what Dobson called: “Authoritative guidance to all health professionals on the latest technologies and drugs.”
The Government is using the 50th anniversary of the NHS to launch its 10 year modernisation programme, with the new frameworks to be introduced in April 1999.