GP expert blasts 'scary' lack of NHS data

Up to 40% of NHS programmes, worth around £20bn annually, have no national data on their effectiveness, a DoH report has found.

Dr Haslam: some boards have forgotten about quality care for patients
Dr Haslam: some boards have forgotten about quality care for patients

There is almost no national quality data in primary care other than the QOF, and none whatsoever in community care, according to a report by the DoH's National Quality Board (NQB).

Unveiling details of the report to delegates at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool last month, NQB member and Cambridgeshire GP Professor David Haslam said that 10% of trust boards 'never' discussed the quality of their clinical services.

'Could it be these boards have forgotten what business they are in - the business of providing quality care for patients?' he said.

The report also criticises the QOF, saying it is designed for 'administering payment' rather than assessing quality.

'It is not able sufficiently to discriminate between performance – most GPs score over 90% – nor are there are any links to secondary care data,' says the document.

The NQB, chaired by NHS chief executive David Nicholson, has been investigating what information is available to measure the quality of services.

It found that the annual budget for gastrointestinal disorders and musculo-skeletal problems is over £8bn, greater than the entire policing and prison budgets combined, yet there is no national data on the effectiveness of services. Professor Haslam called the findings ‘scary’.

The report recommends all providers should be contractually obliged to produce quality data.

Organisations that produce and assess quality data should be combined into one or clarify which role they will focus on, it adds.

Professor Haslam called for trusts to consider developing departments devoted to clinical excellence and more clinicians to be involved at board level.

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