King’s Fund calls for streamlined NHS performance measurement

13 Oct 15

The number of national bodies involved in assessing the performance of the NHS is resulting in “duplication and unnecessary complexity”, the King’s Fund has warned.

In its report, Measuring the performance of local health systems, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, the think-tank called for a “radical simplification” and alignment in the way the NHS performance is assessed.

To achieve this, it said the three existing national outcomes framework – the NHS Outcomes Framework, the Adult Social Care and Public Health Outcomes Frameworks – should be consolidated in to a single structure covering these sectors.

It also recommended that the different public-facing websites should be rationalised to help with an integrated view of services in an area.

Chris Ham, the chief executive of the King’s Fund said: “We strongly support the secretary of state’s commitment to promoting intelligent transparency in the NHS. This demands careful attention to how performance indicators are selected and presented if it is to achieve its desired results.

“Done well, performance assessment can help to strengthen accountability to patients and the public, as well as to support commissioners and providers to improve care. A radical simplification and alignment of the current frameworks and better presentation would do this.”

According to the fund, information should be made available at three levels of detail.

A small set of headline indicators should be selected to enable the public to assess how the local health system is performing, with a broader group of indicators should be developed based on existing frameworks, it added.

The final level would include a more detailed set of indicators that provides a comprehensive picture of local health system performance for commissioners and providers to assess the quality and effectiveness of local services and identify areas for improvement.

The report also considered the case for publishing an aggregate score that would provide an overall rating on the effectiveness of provision in CCG areas.

However, the think-tank said it would not recommend the use of this. It concluded that an aggregate score could mask good or poor performance on individual indicators and therefore would not be a meaningful picture of performance.

Instead, it recommended that the data should be made freely available to support the improvement in care by commissioners and providers.

Responding to the report, a DoH spokeswoman said: “We are determined to make our NHS the safest healthcare system in the world. Improving transparency and using data are key to achieving this and we are pleased to see both the Kings Fund and the Health Foundation endorse this approach.”

It added that it would be bringing together available indicators in one place, to provide a single portal for the public to find out about health performance in their area.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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