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Department of Health: Autumn Performance Report

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Department of Health's 2006 autumn performance report (Cm 6985) has today been laid before Parliament. Copies have been placed in the Library. It shows the progress that my department has made towards achieving its public service agreement targets.

The document shows that there have been further improvements in access to services. Patients can now expect to wait no more than three months for an out-patient appointment and six months for an in-patient appointment. By the end of 2008, patients will wait no more than 18 weeks from general practitioner referral to start of treatment.

We are also providing care to those most in need. We are supporting more older people to live in their own homes, improving the care of those with long-term conditions, providing better mental health services for children and adolescents, and treating increased numbers of those with drug problems. We are also improving health. Death rates from heart disease among people under 75 have fallen by 36 per cent since the baseline of 1995-97; deaths from cancer have fallen by 16 per cent over the same period. These are significant achievements.

These are just some of the successes of the NHS over the past year. These improvements have been made in a demanding year through the hard work, skills and passion of hundreds of thousands of staff, and new and better ways of delivering services.

The department has also today published The NHS in England: The Operating Framework 2007/08. Copies have been placed in the Library. The document is designed to help local NHS staff to shape services around the needs of their local communities. It explains why there is a need to continue embedding reform in 2007-08, signalling a further shift towards building a self-improving system driven by local priorities. Specifically, it sets out:

the health and service priorities for the year ahead;

the next steps in reform and why these are important;

and the financial objectives.

The document also stresses the need for primary care trusts to work with local authorities to improve health and well-being, reduce inequalities and achieve a shift towards prevention.