Standards of care in the NHS will in future be measured by how effective treatment and care has been for patients, the government announced.
The health service should be focusing on "outcome goals", according to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, adding that the new targets will allow patients and other members of the public, as well as Parliament, to call him to account for NHS performance.
However, other targets in the service deemed to have no "clinical justification" will be scrapped, the minister said, although he denied the "outcome goals" are just more targets to be met.
The British Medical Association said answers are still needed to many difficult questions, such as how to measure the success of the outcomes.
A consultation about what the NHS Outcomes Framework can look like was officially launched by the Department of Health. The framework looks at five areas: stopping premature deaths; improving life quality for those with long-term illnesses; recovery from illness or injury; guaranteeing positive experiences of care; and ensuring patients are treated within a safe environment.
"It all depends on how the performance outcomes are set! If they are micro-managed, imposed targets/goals without consultation then it is just more of the same – if they are consulted on and discussed and agreed with clinicians then they stand a far better chance of working. It's all there in the management books if someone would just bother to read them" – Alan Moore, Cheshire