Damned Targets?

“On Tuesday, the Healthcare Commission report revealed that between 2005 and 2008 there were 400 excess deaths at [Stafford] hospital – although it was impossible to say whether these had all been caused by bad care. The report said there were deficiencies at “virtually every stage” of emergency care and managers pursued targets to the detriment of patient care.” Report on BBC website (emphasis added).

The story of undoubted and appalling failure at an English hospital is being widely blamed in the media, by opposition politicians, doctors leaders and some academics, on the so-called ‘target culture’ in public services. But the truth is rather more complicated and harder to explain. Continue reading