The government funded quango the Healthcare Commission is in the business of monitoring healthcare providers against a uniformity of centralised standards and targets. Assessing healthcare services in such areas as waiting times, cleanliness and safety they are to English healthcare what Gosplan used to be to the former Soviet Union. They monitor performance against a uniformity of rules and in so doing will actually help to stifle innovation and genuine consumer led competition.

That said, they are also in the business of getting their political pay masters off the hook of past promises. Whereas British politicians once foolishly promised that all tax funded healthcare would only be provided in nationalised hospitals, the Healthcare Commission clearly accepts that this is no longer viable: a bridge has to be built to an increasingly privatised future.

In this context the Healthcare Commission’s new website allowing patients to see how independent sector hospitals and health providers are performing is to be welcomed. Accepting the meaninglessness of much of the data presented – the garbage in garbage out axiom is clearly at play here – it is nevertheless good that patients are being given information which will encourage more people to accept private healthcare as being part of the consensual mainstream.

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