HL Deb 30 May 2002 vol 635 cc164-5WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the light of recommendation 6.5 in the review of Korner Community Health Services and Cross Sector Returns (November 2000) that commissioners who use "total contacts" should move to more appropriate measures, how many commissioners have now moved to different systems of measurement; and what these systems are. [HL4390]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

Commissioners, the professions and the Department of Health used total face-to-face contacts as a measure of activity levels. However the review group report on Korner Community Health Services and Cross Sector Returns details the weaknesses of using total contacts with patients as, for example, they represent only a small part of work done and there is no measure of quality of care or outcome. Collection of this information was also seen as particularly burdensome by the professional groups involved in the review. For these reasons, total face-to-face contacts were judged to be ill suited as a measure of workload and the review group recommended that the count of total face-to-face contacts should be abandoned. This recommendation was accepted by Ministers and collection of information about total face-to-face contacts was discontinued for 2000–01.

Information about first contacts, the number of patients seen in a financial year, and initial contacts, the number of episodes of care in a year, were seen as more useful measures of activity and the review group's recommendation that these should be retained was also accepted by Ministers.

The review group report also urged commissioners who use total face-to-face contacts to take the opportunity to consider and move to more appropriate measures of activity. This was regarded as a matter for local commissioners and service providers to determine and agree between themselves with due regard to local circumstances. The department has not collected information about these local commissioning arrangements and information about the numbers of commissioners who have moved to different systems of measurement, and what these systems are, is therefore not available centrally. Furthermore, the department would not seek to impose an additional data collection of this nature on the National Health Service where there is no central requirement for the information.