NHS England has published Putting Patients First, its business plan for 2013/14-2015/16, It includes an 11-point scorecard for measuring key priorities, including feedback from patients, their families and NHS staff.

This supports the recommendations by Robert Francis QC, who chaired the independent inquiry into care provided by Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, and comes alongside the launch of the NHS Friends & Family Test. From this month, patients will be asked whether they would recommend hospital wards and A&E departments to their friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment.

"Recent events have demonstrated the need for constant vigilance to ensure consistently high standards of care across the NHS and to pick up possible failures at an early stage," said NHS England's chair, Professor Malcolm Grant. 

The 11 priorities on the scorecard are:

- satisfied patients: establishing the Friends & Family Test for patients, updated and published monthly;

- motivated, positive NHS staff: establishing the Friends & Family Test for NHS staff, updated and published monthly;

- Outcomes Framework with five domains: preventing people from dying prematurely; enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions; helping people to recover from episodes of ill-health or following injury; ensuring that people have a positive experience of care; treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm;

- promoting equality and reducing inequalities in health outcomes: promotion equality and inclusion through NHS services, highlighting and reducing inequalities in health outcomes across all outcome domains, including parity of esteem for people with mental health issues;

- NHS Constitution rights and pledges: direct commissioning and support and assurance of clinical commissioning group (CCG) processes to ensure continued delivery of the Constitution rights and pledges, plus work to embed the Constitution in everything that NHS England does;

- becoming an "excellent organisation:" ensuring NHS England staff understand their roles and are properly supported and are well-motivated, and seeking comprehensive 360-degree feedback from local and national partners; and

- high-quality financial management: "living within our means whilst delivering our priorities."

NHS England says it will go about achieving these 11 scorecard priorities through eight key activities. These are:
- supporting, developing and assuring the commissioning system:
- direct commissioning:
- emergency preparedness;
- partnership for quality;
- strategy, research and innovation for outcomes and growth;
- clinical and professional leadership;
- world-class customer services - information, transparency and participation; and
- developing commissioning support.

The QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) challenge will remain a key priority for the commissioning system over the next three years, and the NHS needs to develop innovative ways to commission the best services for its local populations, the agency notes.From 2013/14, NHS England will support CCGs to meet the QIPP challenge by:
- building on the authorisation process which will provide confidence that each CCG can articulate its own QIPP challenge and has a solid platform for delivery;
- adopting the "assumed liberty" approach rather than performance-managing the achievement of milestones. “We expect to see assurance from each CCG that its governance processes are robust enough to identify and respond to its own QIPP challenges and milestones over the next two years," it says;
- ensuring that direct commissioning does not sustain outdated service models when CCGs have identified the need for improved delivery methods; and
- triangulating activity, quality and cost data, and using this intelligence to provide overall system assurance.

The agency is also in the process of establishing the initial areas of focus where it should provide leadership and support for commissioners, both in CCGs and NHS England, it adds.