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Hitting and missing targets by ambulance services for emergency calls: effects of different systems of performance measurement within the UK

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  • Gwyn Bevan
  • Richard Hamblin

Abstract

Summary. Following devolution, differences developed between UK countries in systems of measuring performance against a common target that ambulance services ought to respond to 75% of calls for what may be immediately life threatening emergencies (category A calls) within 8 minutes. Only in England was this target integral to a ranking system of ‘star rating’, which inflicted reputational damage on services that failed to hit targets, and only in England has this target been met. In other countries, the target has been missed by such large margins that services would have been publicly reported as failing, if they had been covered by the English system of star ratings. The paper argues that this case‐study adds to evidence from comparisons of different systems of hospital performance measurement that, to have an effect, these systems need to be designed to inflict reputational damage on those that have performed poorly; and it explores implications of this hypothesis. The paper also asks questions about the adequacy of systems of performance measurement of ambulance services in UK countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Gwyn Bevan & Richard Hamblin, 2009. "Hitting and missing targets by ambulance services for emergency calls: effects of different systems of performance measurement within the UK," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 172(1), pages 161-190, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssa:v:172:y:2009:i:1:p:161-190
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-985X.2008.00557.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-985X.2008.00557.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Incorporating reputational concerns in public sector reform: it may be effective but needs creative monitoring
      by Jed Friedman in Development Impact on 2012-06-06 19:02:57

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2012. "The Use of Performance Measures in Health Care Systems," Chapters, in: Andrew M. Jones (ed.),The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 33, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Schang, Laura & Hynninen, Yrjänä & Morton, Alec & Salo, Ahti, 2016. "Developing robust composite measures of healthcare quality – Ranking intervals and dominance relations for Scottish Health Boards," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 59-67.
    3. Burgess, Simon & Wilson, Deborah & Worth, Jack, 2013. "A natural experiment in school accountability: The impact of school performance information on pupil progress," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 57-67.
    4. van de Ven, Wynand P.M.M. & Beck, Konstantin & Buchner, Florian & Schokkaert, Erik & Schut, F.T. (Erik) & Shmueli, Amir & Wasem, Juergen, 2013. "Preconditions for efficiency and affordability in competitive healthcare markets: Are they fulfilled in Belgium, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 226-245.
    5. De Rosis, Sabina & Guidotti, Elisa & Zuccarino, Sara & Venturi, Giulia & Ferré, Francesca, 2020. "Waiting time information in the Italian NHS: A citizen perspective," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(8), pages 796-804.
    6. Bevan, Gwyn & Evans, Alice & Nuti, Sabina, 2018. "Reputations count: why benchmarking performance is improving health care across the world," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86469, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Knight, V.A. & Harper, P.R. & Smith, L., 2012. "Ambulance allocation for maximal survival with heterogeneous outcome measures," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 918-926.
    8. Kristian Niemietz, 2015. "Internal Markets, Management by Targets, and Quasi-Markets: An Analysis of Health Care Reforms in the English NHS," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 93-108, February.
    9. Nick Manning & Joanna Watkins, 2013. "Targeting Results, Diagnosing the Means," World Bank Other Operational Studies 25488, The World Bank.

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