Mr Speaker, I share your ambition in reaching Question 17 to be able to say that the long-term plan for the NHS sets out ambitious goals to embed a culture of quality improvement of which my right hon. Friend would be proud.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for getting this far down the list of questions. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has a serious ambition to try to drive this plan forward, but it is unacceptable that best practice is not better disseminated throughout the NHS. It is completely unacceptable that there are such wide divergences in standards between hospitals, and it requires the everyday attention of the Secretary of State himself to drive this change through.
I agree entirely and enthusiastically with my right hon. Friend. The need to improve services in the NHS just to bring them up to the best that is in the NHS is vital and urgent. We can lift the quality of care that all our constituents get simply by learning from the best. We have schemes such as the “getting it right first time” programme, which is brilliant at teaching hospitals how to do things the way that the best hospitals do them, and we want to see more.
A recent report in the British Journal of Surgery demonstrates that the introduction of the Scottish patient safety programme resulted in a 36% drop in post-surgical deaths. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating all the surgeons, anaesthetists, theatre teams and ward staff who achieved this, and would he like to visit Scotland and see the programme in action?
I always love visiting Scotland and would love to come and see this programme in action; I have heard and read about it. In improving quality across the NHS, we need to improve the ability of the NHS to look everywhere—outside the NHS in England, as well as at other hospitals—to find and emulate best practice.
This is a general question about best practice in the NHS, into which David Tredinnick could legitimately shoehorn his concerns about acupuncture, chiropractic therapies, osteopathy and other non-drug based, non-addictive options for pain management, about which I think he is keen to expatiate.
Mr Speaker, I am clearly in your good books and I am most grateful. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explain why so little use is made of these three therapies in the health service, and why NICE has not made any attempt to look at hospitals in China, 50,000 of which use acupuncture for lower back pain?
Mr Speaker, I am glad that you have used your considerable flexibilities to bring this question in, because I wanted to say that NICE is in the process of developing a guideline on the management of chronic pain, which will look at the biological, physiological and social factors, including some treatments mentioned by my hon. Friend. There is progress in this space, and I am glad that we have been able to raise this matter in the House today.
As well as looking at best practice in the NHS, it is vital that we look at best practice in social care. Given that 70,000 people with dementia were admitted to hospital unnecessarily with falls, dehydration and infections just last year, how is the Secretary of State going to put a laser-beam focus on standards in social care?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I am glad that this discussion of improving quality across the NHS and social care has united the House in its enthusiasm to see best practice and ensure that people learn from it. We have seen an awful lot of learning in social care, as most social care is delivered by private sector providers, but there is more to do and there are different levers that we can pull. When social care providers lose their good or outstanding status, they also often lose their contracts, so there is an awful lot of pressure on them to learn from best practice around the country, and I would only emulate that.