There are a number of different ways in which value in the National Health Service can be assessed and the most appropriate measure or set of measures will vary depending on the context and purpose with which an assessment is being made.
The department's business plan, published in November 2010, sets out key indicators which help the public in understanding the costs and outcomes of health and social care services.
NHS productivity is measured by both the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the University of York under a research contract with the department. These measures compare the quantity of outputs produced for the amount of inputs used. There are limitations, however, to how much any single measure of productivity can fully capture the quality and value of health care services to patients.
The Government are committed to patient-centred measures of the value of health care and are rolling out patient-reported outcomes measures, which provide measures of the health gain of surgical treatments from a patient perspective, using pre and post operative questionnaires. In addition, the Care Quality Commission co-ordinates a variety of patient surveys to collect feedback on the experiences of people using a range of NHS services.
Quality-adjusted life years and similar measures of the health benefits provided by specific treatments are used, including by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, to assess the cost-effectiveness of different treatments. These measures enable the health impacts of different treatments to be compared on a consistent basis. When combined with information about the prices of different treatments, these techniques can be used to guide decisions on how to maximise health benefits from the available resources.