Sir Bruce Keogh's report is more important than the political Punch and Judy show

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A report into 14 hospital trusts with unusually high death rates is due to be published. Photo: Press Association

Even before Sir Bruce Keogh's report has hit the streets, the spin doctors are exercising their dark arts.

Sir Bruce was asked to investigate 14 hospitals whose mortality rates were abnormally high for two or more years. His report will be out this afternoon.

But already it's clear that Conservatives will use the opportunity to mount a concerted attack on ex-Labour health secretary Andy Burnham.

Back-benchers were briefed last night on how to plunge the knife into Burnham who, they say, ignored warnings about these hospitals. Burnham says he didn't.

But it would be a great shame if this rather sterile blame game overshadowed much more important matters in the report.

For the way Sir Bruce's investigations were carried out point the way ahead for NHS hospitals.

Take mortality statistics. They are an indication of how well a hospital is doing. But ONLY an indication.

For example, a hospital might have poor overall mortality statistics. And that might put off, say a women choosing where to have a baby.

But that hospital might have good mortality figures in the maternity unit - perhaps better than other nearby hospitals.

Tameside General Hospital is one of 14 hospitals expected to be severely criticised. Credit: ITN

So Sir Bruce's review looked in detail at mortality statistics for the 14 hospitals. They also looked at other measures of performance - for example, patient surveys and infection rates.

And then they carried out exemplary inspections of each hospital. Teams of doctors, nurses. patients and regulators visited for a day or two - sometimes unannounced.

They walked the wards, spoke to patients and relatives and interviewed key figures like the chief executive and medical director.

The culmination was what they called a risk summit - a meeting with the hospital board to thrash out an action plan to tackle shortcomings. These were filmed and the videos will be openly published on the NHS Choices website.

Now this is, in my view, a model of how hospitals should be assessed. A model which might well be taken up by Sir Mike Richards who is just starting his new job as the first ever Chief Inspector of Hospitals in England.

But more than that. Everyone from the Prime Minister down agrees that the NHS needs a new "culture".

David Cameron's spokesman said he is "deeply concerned" at evidence of failings in the NHS.

Most people are pretty vague about what that means. Sir Bruce Keogh's investigation demonstrates by example three principles on which that culture could be built.

First, proper, thorough measurements of how hospitals are performing (just have a look at the "data packs" on the 14 hospitals on NHS Choices website).

Second, accountability. If things are going wrong, heads will roll.

And third, transparency. This is probably the most important - and the reason why those videos are being released.

All those three principles are much more important than the political Punch and Judy show.

Sir Bruce's report will, I believe, be remembered for them long after the political shenanigans are forgotten.