But Sir Bruce Keogh told delegates that was not acceptable given the NHS was now in better financial shape than it had been for years.
Sir Bruce said: ‘Patient safety is subordinate to fiscal reporting. Safety and quality indicators should have the same weight as fiscal indicators.
‘For the first time the NHS is in small surplus and I think that gives you an opportunity to focus on quality initiatives.
‘The vast majority [of trusts] are in financial balance and what I would like to see is the issues of quality and safety receive the same levels of attention, so that money is used for quality and safety.’