Now let's have evidence based politicsBMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7405.58 (Published 03 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:58
- Trevor Jackson, assistant editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Panorama: Fiddling the Figures BBC 1, 29 June at 10 15 pm
From education to health care, almost no area of the United Kingdom's public services seems spared New Labour's obsession with measuring achievement. If the consumer—be that patient, pupil, or commuter—is to get a better deal, then maybe some degree of target setting is a good thing. But in the NHS in particular, fears have been increasing that targets have been skewing priorities and encouraging short termism.
Last month the Audit Commission claimed that hospitals had met government targets on waiting times and patient care through financial cunning, diverting money earmarked for services such as computers, medical equipment, and building maintenance (BMJ 2003;326: 1229). Last Sunday's Panorama took up this theme and explored whether targets were harming the very people that they were meant to protect. The picture that emerged, through interviews with managers and clinicians in Oxford and London, was one of an NHS in which patients were being deceived.