Suffolk NHS star ratings revealed

BUDGET forces hit health trusts hard in Suffolk in the latest health league tables published today.The figures, published by the independent Healthcare Commission, rate every NHS health trust on its performance in 2003/04 using a three-star system.

BUDGET forces hit health trusts hard in Suffolk in the latest health league tables published today.

The figures, published by the independent Healthcare Commission, rate every NHS health trust on its performance in 2003/04 using a three-star system.

They revealed West Suffolk Hospitals Trust as the region's top performer, with it retaining its three-star status.

As anticipated in yesterday's Evening Star, Ipswich Hospital held on to its two-status. Although James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, fell from three stars last year to two this year.

Primary care trusts (PCTs) were hardest hit, with Central Suffolk losing two stars and Ipswich and Suffolk West losing one each. They pointed to financial pressures for the slump and said standards of patient care remained high.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney PCTs retained their two-star statuses of last year but the Local Health Partnerships Trust fell from two stars to none this year.

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The East Anglian Ambulance Service remained a top-performer, holding on to its three stars.

The star ratings system, which has been widely criticised for providing too simplistic an assessment of NHS trusts' performance, is based on a series of targets and performance indicators.

Targets include a maximum four-hour wait in A&E, hospital cleanliness, waiting times for surgery, and financial management.

The ratings also assess how trusts are tackling hospital acquired infections, like the MRSA superbug, but do not take account of the actual rates of infection.

Overall, the ratings for 2003/04 - which cover all hospitals, ambulance trusts, primary care trusts and mental health trusts in England - showed improvement across the NHS.

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