Social Values and Health Priority Setting at UCL


Latest News

Advice Document on Social Value Judgements submitted to NICE

Participants of the KCL/UCL Workshops on Social Values and Health Priority Setting have submitted an advice document to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The document is an open letter in response to a request by Professor Sarah Garner, Associate Director of R&D at NICE, for the KCL/UCL group to consider issues that should be addressed when updating the 2008 edition of NICE's Social Values Judgements document. The authors of the open letter make 10 recommendations to NICE. The recommendations and the full-length open letter can be found here

Peter Littlejohns and Albert Weale submit evidence to NICE

Peter Littlejohns and Albert Weale have submitted evidence to NICE for the consultation on incorporating considerations on the burden of illness into appraisals. They suggest that NICE's proposal to measure the burden of illness by proportional QALY shortfall has a number of merits. And they also suggest a principle by which an appropriate weighting scheme could be justified. However, they also indicate some possible complications arising from the existence of long term chronic conditions. Their submission to NICE can be found here.

Professor Peter Littlejohns secures funding for piloting CCG decision support tool

We are pleased to announce that Professor Peter Littlejohns from King's College London (KCL) will be piloting the decision support tool developed for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)'s next round of Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC). The project commences in January 2014 and will involve testing and evaluating the applicability of the decision support tool in real-life commissioning scenarios in South London. This offers an exciting opportunity to assess how social values feature in the work of CCGs and what decision-making tools are needed to ensure a fair allocation of health care resources on a local level.

Social values project partners meets collaborators at the University of Mainz

From 22-23 August 2013 partners of the joint UCL/KCL and NICE international social values project met for a workshop with counterparts from Germany and Finland at the University of Mainz in Germany. Organised by Professor Claudia Landwehr at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz the workshop was entitled 'Justice, Deliberation and Institutional Design'. The main focus of the workshop was the role of citizens in difficult public policy processes including health care prioritisation. Citizens' conferences are currently being carried out in Finland and in Germany to evaluate ways in which citizens might contribute to decision-making processes that involve the consideration of social values. The participants of the workshop agreed on developing cross-national research collaborations in this area.

Professor Albert Weale and Professor Peter Littlejohns give evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee

On Tuesday 4 December 2012 Professor Albert Weale and Professor Peter Littlejohns gave evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee on the future of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), now the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Watch a video of the evidence Professor Weale and Professor Littlejohns gave here or access the Health Select Committee proceedings directly here.

Social Values Project featured in health consultancy blog

Sam Littlejohns of MHP Communications, a consultancy firm working on health policy issues amongst others, has written a blog about the move towards including social value judgements in priority setting decisions, where previously cost-effectiveness dominated.  Sam suggests that 'Social value judgements could be poised to become all the rage'.  The article points to our project as the only initiative around currently to be tackling the issues. 

Social values and health priority setting in the media

We have had much interest in the project from the media over recent months, with several articles being published in the UK media and one in a Portuguese newspaper.

UCL and King's Summer School on Social Values and Clinical Commissioning

In September, UCL and King's hosted a two day summer school on Social Values and Clinical Commissioning in the UK, attended by health policy practitioners and researchers. Clinical commissioning groups in the UK will soon acquire responsibility for commissioning health services for their local populations, and when they do, they will face familiar problems in healthcare priority setting, including the tension between meeting need and maximising benefit, identifying exceptional cases and securing overall fairness. In addition, a new value-based pricing regime is due to come into effect for pharmaceuticals in the UK in 2014.

Health Technology Assessment international conference

Several lead members of the Social Values research network hosted a panel session at the Health Technology Assessment international conference 2012, in Bilbao on 25 June.

‘How can we set priorities in health fairly?’ UCL conference

UCL hosted a conference in February this year on the challenge of how to set priorities in health fairly, at which presentations were given by several UCL members of the social values network. Albert Weale presented on ‘Social Value for Money in Health Care’; Sarah Clark presented on ‘Interpreting Social Values in Health Care’; and Katharina Kieslich presented the case of ‘Priority Setting in Germany’.

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Contact us

Katharina Kieslich
University College London
School of Public Policy
The Rubin Building
29/30 Tavistock Square

Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4969

About Us

All health care systems are facing the challenge of ensuring that high quality care is provided to the maximum number of people at a cost that the country can afford. This comes at a time when people are living longer, have increasing expectations of what care should be provided, and when the speed of health care innovation continues to offer ever greater options for intervention.

Because no country can afford to provide all its residents with every medical intervention regardless of cost or amount of clinical benefit, all political systems are facing the problem of how to set priorities in the allocation of health care resources. It has long been acknowledged in many countries that technical criteria such as cost and clinical effectiveness inform decisions about resource allocation.

However, as well as technical evaluations, priority setting decisions increasingly involve social value judgments – that is, judgments made on the basis of the moral or ethical values of any particular society. Values such as justice, equity, dignity, non-discrimination, autonomy, and solidarity figure prominently in debates about priority setting. The way in which these values are weighed in decision making varies widely between different countries, but policy makers the world over increasingly must grapple with the problem of how to strike a balance between the values in a way that is socially and ethically justifiable.

Research objectives

Our research objectives are as follows:

  • To undertake a cross-national exploration of the different ways in which values are constructed or understood and for what reasons;
  • To identify cross-nationally how social values are incorporated into decisions about healthcare resource allocation.
  • To assess similarities and differences in the shape and expression of social values, whether or how they are assessed, their political context, and the degree of consensus and diversity within each national setting in different countries across the world.
  • To consider diversity and disagreement about values within countries as well as cross-nationally and in particular, how different countries approach or understand pluralities of value sets within their own population, as these relate to priority setting and as they reflect minority or ethnic group differences within countries.

Page last modified on 30 mar 11 16:38