Credit where it’s due: evidence based policy

As consultants who have had the privilege of working on some of the more interesting and intractable problems of public policy and implementation, we often find ourselves trying to learn the lessons from past mistakes on various programmes. But it’s also good to learn the lessons from what has worked and last week there was an interesting reflection by Kate Dixon, Deputy Director of the Cost Recovery Programme at the Department of Health.

Reflections on the programme

The Cost Recovery programme is designed to make sure that visitors and migrants who use the NHS in England pay for what they should and that the system is not abused. This is an area that has been an emotive topic for some years and was the subject of heated exchanges in the General Election last May. Although there continue to be ill informed and inflammatory claims from both sides of the debate, the Department of Health (DH) have taken a measured view and worked from the evidence.

Prederi are proud to have played a role in the early part of this story, carrying out the research and analysis that gave a scale to the problem. Along with a parallel study by Creative Research on the qualitative aspects, our report disentangled the legitimate use of the NHS by visitors and migrants from the misuse and abuse of the NHS by ‘health tourists’. The report provided the evidence for the Cost Recovery programme and it is fair to say changed the DH view of where the opportunities for cost recovery lay. The emphasis shifted from ‘health tourism’ towards recovering what revenue should have been being collected already by the NHS under the rules.

It’s a cliché that good news is not news, but DH deserve credit for driving forward evidence-based policy in the face of populist rhetoric and misleading anecdote from some politicians and, sad to say, some doctors.

Meet the author

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

Ian is an expert in change management, efficiency reviews, business cases and costing in the public sector. Ian has over 30 years of experience of working in the public sector, as a civil servant, an auditor and as a consultant, covering central and local government, defence,… Read more »