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Maternity services will be the first area to be reviewed

MPs are to launch a new system for evaluating whether key health targets are being met in England.

A panel of experts reporting to the Commons health committee will assess progress made on policy commitments, starting with maternity services.

They will rate performance from “outstanding” to “inadequate” and seek to drive improvements where needed.

Panel chair Dame Jane Dacre told the BBC it would be “fair and impartial” in its findings.

Dame Jane, professor of medical education at University College London and ex-President of the Royal College of Physicians, said she was an apolitical figure.

She said she was keen to ask recent patients and users of NHS services to contribute to the panel’s work as well as specialists in chosen fields, all of whom would have no political affiliation.

‘Held to account’

“It will be challenging, but I am committed to using available evidence to evaluate pledges, with the aim of improving patient care,” she added.

The panel will scrutinise, on behalf of the health committee, major commitments made by the Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Improvement and other public bodies.

It will base its approach on the Care Quality Commission, which evaluates care homes, hospitals, GP practices and other health services.

Health committee chairman, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: “This will mean the government is held to account by an evaluation process similar to that used across the NHS and social care system which gives not just an absolute score but key pointers as to how to improve that score next time round.

“We hope it will focus attention on areas where a number of vital commitments have been made.”

Action expected

The panel’s pilot study will cover maternity services in England. Future subjects could include cancer care, mental health provision and patient safety.

It will examine whether individual targets were appropriate, whether they have been met or are course to be met, whether they were effectively funded and whether they achieved a positive impact for patients.

The panel’s reports are expected to be made public and where progress towards targets is deemed inadequate or requiring improvement, the committee said it would expect action to be taken and follow-up reviews to take place.

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