A report from a leading health and care think tank has found that the NHS in Wales uses over 370 separate indicators and measures to monitor and evaluate its performance, leading to confusion, wasted opportunities and time.
The Bevan Commission report, Measuring health outcomes – a complex system, also reviewed the use of health data and information, and identified the need for better integration of data within the NHS as well as with social care. This will enable health and care professionals to plan services more effectively and ensure a more meaningful approach for resolving patients’ needs.
“Difficult to navigate for professionals and the public”
The Bevan Commission audit of health and care targets and performance outcomes in Wales has uncovered an overly complex system that is difficult for NHS professionals and members of the public to navigate.
Many of the 370 separate indicators for monitoring and evaluating health and care are based on routinely collected data such as service and process information, rather than on patient outcomes. The report also found that the current NHS Wales performance management system does not sufficiently promote collaborative working across specialisms and organisations to enable better support and care to be provided.
The Bevan Commission has called for a single National Outcomes Framework for health and social care in Wales, developed by working together with a range of partners and linking measures to outcomes that matter to patients.
Make data more easily accessible
The Bevan Commission, hosted and supported by Swansea University School of Management, also reviewed the management of health data and information in Wales to assess whether progress had been made since the Commission’s landmark report in 2013. Today’s report found that there still remains an urgent need to improve the collection and use of data, connecting those who generate health data in Wales with those who use it.
The report also called for NHS Wales to make its data more accessible and transparent, so that patients can use it to inform their health choices, hold the health service to account, and enable them to work together with NHS professionals to identify better solutions.
Helen Howson, Director of the Bevan Commission, said:
“While the NHS in Wales has made some progress in the way it manages health data and measures health outcomes, it is clear that there is still significant journey ahead to join up within and outside the system – this would make it easier for members of the public and professionals alike to make best use of it.
“That there are over 370 indicators and measures demonstrates that we have a far too complex and disjointed system, which is not putting the patient at its centre. We need to simplify these measures and develop a single more accessible and meaningful National Outcomes Health and Care Framework, working with patients and professionals to ensure it meets needs that matter to people.”