Healthcare Commission Criticised over Its Evaluation of Services' Cost-Effectiveness

By Dicken, Paul | Public Finance, November 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Healthcare Commission Criticised over Its Evaluation of Services' Cost-Effectiveness


Dicken, Paul, Public Finance


An economist who led work at the Healthcare Commission on value for money in the health service has criticised the commission's approach to evaluating the costeffectiveness of services.

Peter West, a senior research associate at the York I Iealth Economics Consortium at York University, recently came to the end of a three-year secondment at the commission.

He told Public Finance that value for money work was a low priority for the commission and had been sidelined in the organisation, which was preoccupied with developing new areas of work rather than delivering existing ones.

West said there was an 'inevitable tension between quality and efficiency in health and social care', but there had been a lack of willingness by the commission to accept a 'tradeoff between quality and costs'.

A paper submitted by the consortium to the parliamentary committee on the Health and Social Care Bill earlier this year raised concerns over the potential for such tensions in the Care Quality Commission, the new health and social care watchdog, which begins work in April 2009.

'It should be noted that the legislation simply gives the new Care Quality Commission the powers to carry out studies of economy and efficiency.

'It is arguable that this should be a key requirement, given the likely future pressure on health and social care budgets. The powers to carry out such studies could be strengthened by making such studies a requirement in future. …

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