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CCGs will distort public health monitoring, researchers warn

The Government's health care reforms will distort the collection of data for monitoring public health, researchers have warned.

A paper, published on BMJ.com, says CCGs will not be able to collect data as efficiently because they will not be organised geographically.

Researchers said this will ‘radically change the longstanding basis for collecting data routinely about the health needs of local populations', and make it difficult to monitor the effect of new legislation on the health of the population.

Study authors Professor Allyson Pollock, Professor Alison Macfarlane and Sylvia Godden cited child immunisation as a particular area of concern, as local authorities will now be taking responsibility for immunisation.

‘Since the residents of a local authority may be registered with any one of a number of different CCGs, the local authority will have to subcontract immunisation to a CCG, which will in turn outsource the commissioning function to other bodies, which could contract the service to several providers,' the study says.

‘Although it will be possible to compare reported differences in immunisation rates between CCGs, the instability of the denominator population will hinder accurate interpretation of the data.'

This echoes similar criticisms made by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation, as reported in Pulse.

The study concludes: ‘The abolition of area based structures and the transfer of most responsibilities to non-geographically based CCGs, as well as some responsibilities to local authorities, undermines the availability of information and routine data required to monitor the comprehensiveness of the health service, inequalities in access, the resourcing of services, and outcomes of care.

‘Private income generation coupled with the loss of population basis and responsibilities for comprehensive data collection and monitoring will make it almost impossible to take the action needed to tackle inequalities in health and in access to healthcare.'

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