Carter Review League Tables Likely to be Delayed

A league table of trust efficiency that was being designed as part Lord Carter’s review is likely to be further delayed.

Audits of important cost data discovered widespread non-compliance by NHS trusts, causing delays in the overall process.

The Labour peer, who wrote a major review into NHS productivity earlier this year, recently restated the intention to publish tables that would highlight trusts with high levels of waste and inefficiency.

Lord Carter noted in comments on the matter that the quality of data collection has hindered the initiative.

Yet experts on data collection suggest that this process is unlikely to improve.

A spokesman for NHS Improvement, which is now hosting the team overseeing the Carter agenda, conceded that there is a real need for data quality to be improved before the league tables can be published.

“We need trusts to be better at reporting their reference costs so we have a more accurate weighted activity unit.”

Andrew Street, professor of health economics at York University, has previously worked with NHS Improvement to assess national payment tariffs.

And Street commented that costs have generally been neglected across the NHS system.

“NHS providers have never paid much attention to their costs, either in terms of ensuring their accuracy or using the information to decide what to do, and this report won’t change matters.”

Street also believes that data and subsequent cost comparisons will become “progressively less valid over time”.

This is due to the process of trusts blocking contracts with their commissioners, leading to poorer negotiations over setting the correct prices for treatments.

Meanwhile, Lord Carter’s planned “model hospital” tool should be fully developed by April; at least providing some light at the end of the tunnel.

But for many this will be viewed as another area of NHS underperformance.

Carter was made a life peer as Baron Carter of Coles, of Westmill in the County of Hertfordshire on the advice of Prime Minister Tony Blair on 8th June 2004.


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