The newly-published NHS Outcomes Framework for 2012-13 includes a renewed focus on improving patient results, with 60 indicators which will be used to hold the NHS Commissioning Board to account, the government has said.

The NHS "is about one ambition and one ambition alone - improving results for patients. And that is the change that the NHS Outcomes Framework that we're publishing today will bring about," said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, speaking yesterday. 

The Framework is structured around five domains setting out the national outcomes that the NHS should be aiming to improve, says the government. The domains focus on: - 1: preventing people from dying prematurely; - 2: enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions; - 3: helping people to recover from episodes of ill-health or following injury; - 4: ensuring that people have a positive experience of care; and - 5: treating and caring for people in a safe environment; and protecting them from avoidable harm.

"Domains one to three include outcomes that relate to the effectiveness of care, domain four includes outcomes that relate to the quality of the patient experience and domain five includes outcomes that relate to patient safety," says the Framework document.

The plans outlined in the new Framework have been broadly welcomed; NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said that they present the NHS with "a genuine opportunity to deliver better healthcare for patients, something many of the best NHS providers are already doing."

It is time to look beyond the "more simplistic" targets introduced by the previous government and "take a more rounded view on the quality of care," he added.

Chris, Ham chief executive of health policy think tank The King's Fund, also welcomed the continued emphasis on aligning NHS priorities with outcomes for patients and refining indicators to measure improvements in the quality of care.

However, Prof Ham also said that the absence of an indicator measuring how well care is coordinated for patients with multiple needs was “an omission,” and that it was notable how little emphasis was placed on promoting integrated care in the Framework.

"It remains to be seen how practical it is to translate 60 specific measures at an organisational level and the extent to which they will be performance-managed," he added.

- Mr Lansley also announced that, starting now, patients will be able to see a new map of the local health services which will be available to them through the "Any Qualified Provider" policy from April 2012, and a new map of GP practices on NHS Choices which will help them identify the best practice for them.

The GP practices map will enable people with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, depression and heart disease to see which surgeries have significant experience of treating patients like them, the number of patients registered at a practice and their breakdown by age and gender. Also, for the first time, they will be able to see to what extent different GP practices offer patients choice of their first hospital appointment. 

"This is the beginning of a journey towards giving patients choice, regardless of where they live, over their GP," says the government.