NHS managers must be "the champions of quality", health secretary Alan Johnson has said.
The "overwhelming emphasis" of health minister Lord Darzi's next stage review will be on quality, Mr Johnson said while speaking at the NHS Confederation conference.
He told delegates: "Managers and leaders need to be champions of quality in all aspects of care – this is how success must be measured."
Mr Johnson (pictured) stressed that quality was not just about the effectiveness and safety of patient care but also "how compassionately that care is given".
The workforce strategy element of the next stage review will set out how the government will work with the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and other professional bodies "to better define and measure the quality of nursing care", including patient experience, Mr Johnson said.
The strategy will also set out national support for training, development and workforce planning needed at local level, to meet the priorities identified by strategic health authorities in their regional Darzi vision documents.
Mr Johnson said: "The next stage review will be the most important development in the history of the NHS."
Primary and community care would be centre stage, he said, with a "relentless emphasis on promoting health and well-being".
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"I agree with Claire Deare [below] – I find this grossly insulting in its supposition we do not already champion quality" – Ann Beuken, Scotland
"This coming from a man that has little or no experience of healthcare management. As PMs we are constantly battling against ill thought-out public policy which undermines the very objective of primary care, whilst having to try and implement an effective service to our patients using limited or (in some cases) no resources. How can you implement quality around that? If this government continues to run the country into the ground as it has rapidly done so since coming to power, the effect on the nation will only lead to an increase in the need for GP services through more poverty, stress and ill-health. I don't think Gordon Brown realises the legacy he is leaving the country for years to come" – Andrew Thomas, South Wales
"Spoken like someone who has never met a GP practice manager or a patient! The eminent Lord Darzi has little if any experience of primary care and how continuity contributes to quality, and so I question whether it's a case of the blind leading the blind!" - Name and address supplied
"Patronising rubbish! But what can we expect from a former postman? Our local Darzi clinic is going to be in an area where there are 22 GP practices within a 2 mile radius. Doesn't take much effort to see where its patients are going to come from, and I have heard that if someone is seen at the clinic three times then they will be automatically reregistered there!" - Name and address supplied
"What does he know about quality? The darzi proposals are untested. The process of rolling them out was hardly good quality communication. Do as I say, not as I do. Business as usual with this government." - Colin Paget, South London
"Does he actually think we don't champion quality already? And why does quality equal change? My coffee and biscuit consumption goes up by the day as a result of reading articles like this." - Claire Deare, Leicestershire