07 February 2009

Choice, choice and more choice

How many surveys do you think the Department of Health has conducted on the topic of patient choice? Three? Half a dozen? The answer is over a dozen. Fifteen to be precise. How many patients do you think they questioned for their latest survey? A hundred? Five hundred? Five thousand maybe? The answer is 93,000? How much do you think this cost? £50,000? £100,000? £200,000 maybe? The answer is that only the Department of Health knows. If you use the Freedom of Information Act to find out they will tell you that this information is not available because it's to do with commercial contracts. Dr Grumble would say that this is his taxpayers' money so he should be allowed to know.

Why is the Department of Health so obsessed with choice that it has to carry out fifteen surveys of tens of thousands of people on the topic? Is there something wrong with the amount of choice our patients are getting? Let's look at the bottom line from this survey:

  • 67 percent of patients were able to go to the hospital they wanted, with a further 23 percent having no preference (pdf).
That's how they phrase it. It is almost as if the pollsters have been trawling the data to find something wrong. Because, if you add 67% and 23% you get 90%. In other words, for those people in the Department of Health who persist in spending taxpayers' money on these surveys, 90% of the patients went to the hospital they wanted to go to or didn't care which hospital they went to. Ninety per cent of patients were satisfied. Please, Department of Health, that is not a problem.

It is not worth spending any more of Grumble's money on this issue. It really isn't. Unless, of course, you have another agenda.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So many of the surveys that are carried out ask such leading questions they are often virtually worthless.

Surveys are usually carried out to achieve a specific result; one which endorses a course of action already decided by government. And if the statistics don't provide the justification they need? Just do another survey, and another. And should that strategy fail just carry on regardless with whatever crass policy you have dreamed up.

So glad our money is being well spent in these straightened times.