Sara McCafferty on priority setting

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: