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Sara McCafferty on priority setting

20 Feb, 09 | by BMJ

Sarah McCafferty

In October last year we announced the UK Forum on Health Care Priority Setting at the 7th meeting of the International Society on Priorities in Health Care. The forum is funded by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and is organised by the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University.

The forum’s first meeting took place in January 2009. The second meeting takes place on 25 February and will discuss “Ethics, financing and priority setting.”

To register your interest, and join our mailing list, please email Anita Tibbs at the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University.

The current economic climate, and the inevitable impact of this on health care has highlighted the need for priority setting, managing scarcity and ultimately achieving value for money.

Programme budgeting marginal analysis (PBMA) is one approach that economics offers to assist decision making in resource allocation. PCTs currently split their spending into 23 programme budgeting categories; PBMA provides a framework for reviewing past resource allocation and assessing the added benefits and added costs of a proposed investment, similarly the benefits lost and lower costs associated with a potential disinvestment.

Last month’s forum meeting discussed “Programme Planning and Priority Setting”.
Beyond the formal presentations, the meeting stimulated informal discussion amongst attendees and a number of issues were raised, including the: need for culture change, sensitivity of politics, requirement for increased focus in priority setting as a central priority and what tools the group can develop to assist PCTs with priority setting.

Tom Porter (SpR Public Health, SEPHO) also provided details of the new Public Health Commissioning Network, which aims to facilitate national knowledge sharing between local authorities and PCTs.
To find out more about January’s meeting, please visit:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ihs/news/item/?uk-forum-on-health-care-priority-setting

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  • Dr John Corish

    Ms McCafferty writes: “The current economic climate, and the inevitable impact of this on health care has highlighted the need for priority setting, managing scarcity and ultimately achieving value for money.”

    It strikes me that one obvious priority would be to ban time and money wasting meetings (and meetings about meetings) that so bedevil the NHS. How many scarce staff will be drawn away from their clinical duties to attend this “priority setting” meeting? How much will it cost? And does it represent “value for money”?

  • Cam Donaldson

    As joint co-ordinator (with Sara McCafferty) of the UK Forum on Priority Setting in Health Care, I feel compelled to respond to Dr Corish. His point is well made – meetings and general bureaucracy seem to be a general and growing feature of the UK public sector today.
    However, I am not sure that a meeting that aims to bring together people from different parts of that sector (researchers and the NHS), from different disciplines within each, and where we discuss an enduring NHS issue (that of how best to manage scarce resources and how to best assist health care professionals in doing this) is the best target for such frustrations.

  • Dr John Corish

    Priority setting is not rocket science: the over-riding priority of the NHS (as with any other health service)is (or should be) to ensure that sick patients get appropriate treatment quickly. I don’t see why it’s necessary to hold a meeting to establish something so self-evident.

    Now, Cam Donaldson, as you are a joint co-ordinator of what to my mind is a pointless meeting, perhaps you’d be kind enough to answer at least some of the questions I raised in my opening post in this blog.

  • Jebly Watson

    Dony worry aobut anything as the US economy is in the toilet and going to suffer a downturn like never before

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