The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of trying to “bury” a report revealing how NHS cancer services are being undermined by Payment by Results (PbR), the health service’s funding system.
The report, Ensuring PbR supports delivery of effective cancer services, was commissioned by the Department of Health and was finalised in May.
It was published on Friday 8 August, the opening day of the Beijing Olympics.
The report finds that PbR results in hospitals that treat patients requiring complex operations and treatment to lose money, and that the internal market as it currently operates is undermining high-quality cancer services.
It also says that patients with complex needs are losing specialist hospitals vast sums of money, and that the system actively discourages investment in new technology and new treatments known to improve patient outcomes.
Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, said: “This is a devastating criticism of the problems PbR is causing for the parts of the NHS we should be most proud of.
“This report reveals the very serious unintended consequences of how treatments are paid for. Ministers claim that PbR is rewarding efficiency, but this report shows that it risks distorting clinical decisions about who to treat and whether to invest in new and improved technologies.
He added: “I am writing today to the Secretary of State calling for an urgent review of PbR. There is a clear need for reform of this system.”
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
“This troubled system was ill thought out from the start. The NHS is a cash limited service and cannot be run along purely commercial lines since there will inevitably be a shortfall in available funds. Whether a review would help is anybody’s guess. I suppose it depends on which initiative the next career politician uses on this to make his/her name!” – Name and address withheld