How much should your hospital be paid?

The BBC reports that one of the Government's proposals, in their pre-Queens Speech, is to add a measure of patient satisfaction and healthcare outcomes to the funding formula for hospitals.  The details are being kept from the great unwashed at the moment but, suffice it to say, this is a pretty poor substitute for genuine control of the health service by ordinary people:

"Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund health think-tank, said he was sceptical over the merits of changing an "already complicated" system.

He said it would make more sense to get primary care trusts, which are responsible for buying services off hospitals, to use data already available to commission from the best-performers.

And he added: "You will end up putting primary care trusts in a situation where they have a choice of paying to give fewer patients top quality care or more patients average care. It puts them in a difficult position.""

The Government are proposing to complicate an already complicated formula and will have to decide how important health outcomes and patient satisfaction should be relative to the volume of work performed.  A simpler solution would be this: let patients choose which hospital they wish to buy treatment from and hospitals will have to compete to offer the best service at the best price.  Ordinary people are quite capable of deciding which hospitals deserve their money without any complicated formula.

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