One story that recurs quite often in the health pages is that of disparity of treatment and drug availability between different areas of the UK. And because of the arbitrary nature of these differences, the phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “the postcode lottery”. The idea being, of course, that whether drug X or treatment Y is available to you is simply luck (albeit geo-location based luck!).
So it was interesting to read in the health news today that the government is bringing in new rules designed to ‘eradicate’ the sometimes stark differences in availability that service users sometimes experience. Hospitals will in future have to publish the applicable information regarding these – and the info on each hospital’s deployment of new drugs and procedures will be easy to compare with that of others.
This could bring about some big changes – indeed the health minister refers to the initiative as a “catalyst for change” within the service. It will also be interesting to see just how many interesting graphs the data will eventually provide. One of the most important things that the new system will show up is that drugs which are approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence aren’t currently uniformly issued – some hospitals make them available immediately while others delay the use of them. people with private healthcare on the other hand are far more likely to have the innovative drugs and other treatments rather than be in a position where they have to wait.
What do you think of the scorecard system? Let us know in the comments.