We are working with the professions to develop information on outcomes. It is essential that information is robust, meaningful and unlikely to mislead before any decision is taken on publication.
Is it not about time that we had some patients charter standards on quality? Why is the Minister still considering what to do on the issue when the Scottish Office is already publishing information about clinical outcome indicators on a hospital-by-hospital basis? If the information can be published in Scotland, why can it not be published in England, so that local people can make judgments about the quality of their hospitals?
I do not remember Labour Members, who now seem keen about publishing outcomes information, being so keen when we started publishing the information in Scotland. We are piloting and evaluating a range of indicators aimed at giving patients better information about the quality of their treatment. Information will be available within the NHS during next year and will be published in a form accessible to patients in 1998. I hope that the hon. Gentleman remembers that that is only one part of the task on the issue of quality that he raised. We are also looking at clinical audit and effectiveness, investing large amounts of money in improving both.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the move away from the old, unwieldy health boards with 20 or so members to small, compact trust hospital management groups has done much to introduce local factors, which have allowed surgical outcomes to be much improved?