Letter: League tables don't serve NHS

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a pity the Audit Office has not been asked to audit the cost of the NHS reforms ('Doctors face best-and-worst listings', 30 June). Hospital league tables seem designed to mislead and are largely irrelevant to patient care, but history tells us that when 'reforms' are introduced for purely ideological reasons, the only information released by government is propaganda. Indeed, the situation is not dissimilar to China during the Great Leap Forward.

Then, in order to impress visiting dignitaries that agricultural production was increasing, fields were dug up overnight and the crops replanted for inspection the following day. Now Virginia Bottomley's claim to have increased productivity in the NHS also depends upon double counting. She has merely redefined a Finished Consultant Episode to include all in-patient consultations rather than the previous definition based on discharges and deaths.

The number of people on waiting lists has now risen to more than a million, with another 1.3 million waiting for a first consultation. Ideology determines everything and any faults in the system are attributed to 'professional resistance'.

In China, Mao tightened his grip on power by launching the Cultural Revolution and placed peasants in charge of the professional classes. The NHS is now run by political appointees who are medically unqualified and democratically unaccountable.

Yours faithfully,

ROBIN RUSSELL JONES

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

30 June

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