On a snowy day in January, the Health & Social Care Benchmarking Network were delighted to have members join us in a discussion with Sir Harry Burns around the report on his recent review on Health & Social Care Targets & Indicators.

The Limitations of Targets Alone

Sir Harry set the scene by asking “are we supporting the Scottish population to flourish with our current targets and indicators?” He set out some of the limitations of targets as they currently operate.  Although targets include lots of active verbs (improve, increase etc) they don’t provide an underlying method. There are also significant risks of getting a false impression by looking at snapshots of only some parts of the system. Comparison of some of the statistics, when viewed in isolation, might be giving a misleading impression. We need more information to understand what is actually going on.

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Life Expectancy

Sir Harry joined the meeting having just attended a meeting with the Scottish Government on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their impact on long-term health.  There is increasing interest in Scottish policy on the role of ACEs, and recognition of the need to measure exposure to them and counteract their damaging impacts by more effectively supporting families at risk.

Accident & Emergency Visits and Taking a Different Approach

Considerably more work is required to get to the root cause when people repeatedly re-appear at A&E. We need to get behind the reasons why this happens and that should be a key driver of activity – across the system, not just in silos. To move the system in a common direction he suggested that, in a continuous dialogue, we:

·         Measure outcomes

·         Share thinking and learning

·         Adopt what works

·         Co-produce outcomes with the general public

We need to be strong enough to drop targets and indicators that aren’t working, while making sure we can do the obvious, and act with common sense in how we support people.  There are steps being taken to look at different ways of obtaining, analysing and using data. In the meantime Sir Harry invited members of the network to support exploration of a different approach to measurement and improvement. We’d welcome your comments on what this could look like – use the comment function below or drop Lisa an email at HSCBN HQ.

Slides from the meeting are available here