This site is intended for health professionals only

Lib Dem peer recognises need for ‘benevolent rationing’

 Liberal democrat peer Baroness Shirley Williams, has recognised the need for ‘benevolent rationing’ in the NHS.

Speaking at a commissioning event in Westminster yesterday evening, Baroness Shirley, said:

‘I’ve just been looking at the detailed US studies about over-testing and there was a big argument recently about prostate cancer. In fact it’s not always a good idea to test quite so much.

 ‘So in some sense it’s benevolent rationing that need to get across to patients.’

Speaking at the same event, NHS Alliance chair, Dr Mike Dixon said  ‘I think there is an awful lot of benevolent rationing to be done, we’ve done it previously with prescribing. Most of us reduced our prescribing of antibiotics and patients were better because they weren’t being given antibiotics.’

He added : ‘ For the first time I’m now a member of the NHS, instead of bumping up the cost of my practices and spending money willy-nilly on my patients now the whole envelope is my responsibility.’

Beverley Bryant, managing director for Capita Health, said: ‘I don’t like the word rationing, I think there is another way of putting it which is ‘directed care’.’ She added: ‘There are a lot of people who turn up at the GP with suspected cancer too late for treatment so actually we do need people to come. It isn’t necessarily about cutting down demand.’ She argued that if population needs were better understood care could be more appropriately targeted to avoid patients coming through A and E that might have their needs better met by another part of the health system.