Letter: Hospital league tables: statistics that confuse efficiency with effectiveness

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The Independent Online
Sir: According to your front-page article on the Government's 'health care list tables' ('Doctors face best-and-worst listings', 30 June), Virginia Bottomley is 'not ruling out US-style lists which name doctors and rate their performance'.

This American, for one, has never heard of such a list, let alone consulted one. Perhaps one or two of the 50 state governments employ such a scheme? Perhaps a particular city? Much more likely, the doctor-rating referred to is simply the practice of certain large, private 'health maintenance organisations'. Whichever of these might be the case, no comparison can legitimately be made with a central national government using all the financial and promotional resources at its disposal to numerically grade each and every physician within its borders.

Readers must take care to question not only the wisdom of particular government proposals for change, but also the claim so often made that in substance they are 'American'.

Yours faithfully,

STUART SEMMEL

London, WC1

30 June

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