Government targets for health services were meant to motivate health care workers to go the extra mile to ensure all round improvement in Healthcare. According to researchers, these targets can do well with added control and monitoring, to keep manipulation tactics at bay.
Gwyn Bevan and Christopher Hood from the London School of Economics, have indeed lauded the target based assessment, but have gone further to stress the importance of systems. This is imperative to ensure that, targets don't result in elevation of certain services at the cost of some others.
The experts have communicated their view point in the British Medical Journal, which also carries the annual ratings of NHS trusts in England, since 2001. According to statistics, in 2002, prior to target settings, 23%of patients spent more than 4 hours in waiting in A&E, as against present percentage of 5.3%.
Improvements were certainly perceptible in terms of the response time by ambulance trusts as well as the patients in waiting for elective surgery. "Nobody would want to return to the NHS performance before the introduction of targets, with over 20% of patients spending more than four hours in accident and emergency and patients waiting more than 18 months for elective admission," they said.
The researchers have suggested upon introducing some unpredictability in the performance assessment, so that improvements are not premeditated. A good idea would be to have spot inspections or tests without any prior indication of targets .