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Editor's blog Wednesday 20th January 2010: hello again

Hello again. You want to know why I’ve been away for a bit? No, you don’t. Really. Frankly, I don’t want to know about it either.

It was because of stuff. Tedious, time-consuming anti-fun stuff. Four-letter-wording stuff. There we go.

Much has been up. Bill Moyes gave us a farewell interview - which you should read. He also gave one to (and the FT, and HSJ. The quality press, y'know.

Pay cuts for top people are becoming a reality. The Nuffield Trust has issued a new report comparing the performance of the NHS in the four home nations. (If we brought in the French and Italian healthcare systems, we could give it a snappy title …)

The Nuffield report, Funding and performance of healthcare systems in the four countries of the UK finds that “the NHS in England is making better use of the resources it has in terms of delivering higher levels of activity, crude productivity of its staff and lower waiting times.

“Scotland has the highest levels of poor health, the highest rates of expenditure, the highest rates of hospital doctors, GPs and nurses per capita, and yet it had the lowest rates of crude productivity of its staff and the lowest rates of inpatient admissions per head of population in 2006/7”.

It is a truism that the study’s comparison of activity levels and staff headcounts risks confusing inputs with outputs. It is certainly a useful endeavour to consider what has proven effective – and the “targets and terror” regime of the English NHS gets a good press. We are still some distance form useful metrics of functional health status relative to a local average and of the subsequent health outcomes from treatment.

I also went to the Circle conference in Bath last week, which was a fascinating experience for some of the right reasons and not a few of the wrong ones. More on that later, and tomorrow form the NHS Confederation’s latest policy salon.