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in my opinion...

PCTs have improved their performance in the past year but are still lagging behind the rest of the NHS, the latest set of star ratings reveal.

The number of PCTs with a three-star rating rose from 45 to 58, figures for 2004/5 show, with the number of

zero-starred PCTs falling from 14 to seven.

But just 19 per cent of PCTs achieved three stars, compared with 42 per cent

of acute and ambulance


A quarter of PCTs failed to hit the key target of achieving financial balance, marginally better than the one-third of acute trusts.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, which compiles the ratings, said financial management was the 'fly in the ointment' in the NHS.

She said: 'Quality of care is inextricably linked to good financial management. Temporary instability must not lead to a permanent problem. If it does, patients will lose out because standards of care will suffer.'

Star ratings will be replaced by an 'annual health check'

after this year.

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