Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The news that the new Norfolk  & Norwich University Hospital is to lose one its stars must come as a shock to the hundreds of committed and hard working staff who keep our much valued NHS going and will only serve to damage the morale of both those who work in, and use the NHS.
My family recently had cause to use the N&N and we found the quality of care to be fantastic.  It really was case of “three stars” all round as far as we were concerned, but still the government strip them of a star because they haven’t hit a certain Department of Health target.
This has got to stop. Star ratings do not give an accurate reflection of a hospital’s performance. They are extremely misleading for patients, who should rightly assume that a three star hospital must be better than a trust with one or no stars - but this is not the case.

The ‘star ratings’ system is misleading, and it distorts priorities and is incompatible with patient choice.  The “star ratings” system is not a viable part of the future structure of the NHS. We need an NHS which responds to the choice and needs of patients, not the dictates of the Department of Health. Star ratings do not represent a measure of the quality of clinical care provided by hospitals, even more so in relation to clinical departments within hospitals. If patients are to exercise choice they need information relevant to this, not misleading star ratings.

Ask the staff and management of those Trusts which have lost stars this year and most will tell you that the quality of clinical care they offer is the same or even better than last year. Star ratings are arbitrary and perverse and there is no place for them in a patient centred NHS. 

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