Our first Annual Statement aims to provide independent scrutiny of the quality of care delivered to patients and service users in England.

The quality of NHS care in England has been scrutinised more in the past year than in any other year since 1948. This has been because of a number of high-profile reports, such as Robert Francis QC’s inquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust; Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into the quality of care and treatment provided by 14 hospital trusts in England; and the Care Quality Commission’s investigation report into University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Against the backdrop of these inquiries and other well documented challenges facing health and social care services, this report aims to provide independent scrutiny of the quality of care in England.

The report is the first annual assessment of the quality of Government funded health and social care services from QualityWatch, a new research programme launched in October 2013 by independent health research organisation the Nuffield Trust and healthcare improvement charity the Health Foundation.

Each year of the QualityWatch programme we will produce a range of reports and analyses, and once a year we will publish a summary report which draws together all of the analysis we have conducted throughout the year.

This first report: Is the quality of care in England getting better? QualityWatch Annual Statement 2013, is not intended to be comprehensive. Instead, it provides an overview of our initial research into the quality of care services.

We provide an overview of our initial research into the quality of care

The assessment draws on analysis of nearly 150 quality indicators spanning primary care and community services, hospital care, mental health services and social care. These have been evaluated in relation to six domains of care quality: access; safety; effectiveness; person-centred care and experience; capacity; and equity.

It also incorporates findings from two in-depth ‘Focus On’ reports. The first investigates trends between 2001 and 2013 in emergency admissions for people with ‘ambulatory care sensitive’ (ACS) conditions – these are clinical conditions for which an emergency admission could be prevented by good quality primary and outpatient care.

The second study examines trends in treatment for people with hip fractures between 2001 and 2011. Together they suggest that the quality of urgent and preventive care require immediate attention.

The findings included in the annual statement will be updated next year as part of the research programme’s aim to provide on-going authoritative and independent scrutiny on the quality of health and social care.