A list of 232 quality indicators has been put together and published, for the first time, by the Department of Health and the National Health Service Information Centre to help clinicians benchmark their work and improve service quality.

The current list of Indicators for Quality Improvement – which cover patient safety, effectiveness of care and patient experience – is largely made of existing indicators already used by parts of the Service, but the long-term goal is to build a more extensive range to help every floor of the NHS improve service quality, according to the NHS Information Centre.

The indicators are designed to help keep track of the quality of care delivered throughout the Service as well as root out areas in need of improvement more efficiently, but it was stressed that they should not be seen as a new set of targets or mandatory indicators for performance management.

Each of the 232 indicators, which include the length of time patients wait from hospital discharge to cardiac rehabilitation or the incidence of MRSA, for example, has gone through an initial selection process to ensure its suitability. This process was sponsored by five Royal Colleges and the British Cardiovascular Society, and included an online survey on acute care indicators already in use in some areas of the NHS, the DH said.

Publication of the quality indicators marks another tick off Health Minister Darzi’s list of new measures set out in his report on the NHS High Quality Care for All, in which he explains: “We can only be sure to improve what we can actually measure”.

And now, commenting on its publication, Darzi said the initial list “is just the start of a NHS wide resource that will challenge and stimulate NHS staff to drive up the quality of care they deliver to patients”. But the list will be developed over the next three to five years “to improve depth of coverage across all care pathways and quality dimensions”, he added.