UCL News


Letter: How the NHS is fixed

26 April 2006

Primary Care Trust chief executives are losing their jobs, accused of mismanagement by the merchants of spin (Leaders, April 25).

No doubt some deserve their fate. But some will have gone because the Department of Health has used faith not science to fix the formula that now controls the division of about £ 60bn between 300 or so PCTs.

There is a remarkable dearth of curiosity in all we hear and read about those deficits and in an influential formula that gives favoured PCTs twice as much per head as the less fortunate ones. The formula is nothing other than statistical legerdemain, based on a correlational study of socio-economic proxies rather than on any direct measurement of health need. Go to www.ucl.ac.uk/stats and research report 267. Download and save the Excel file PCTgrapher.xls, and see how your PCT fares in this politically engineered game.

Professor Mervyn Stone

UCL Statistical Science

'The Guardian'