Performance evaluation in the National Health Service - a systems approach

Holloway, Jacqueline Anne (1990). Performance evaluation in the National Health Service - a systems approach. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000dfd6

Abstract

This research explores the contribution which systems theories, methodologies and models can make in the design and application of effective performance-evaluation processes. Approaches to performance assessment of organisations are reviewed, and the history and structure of the NHS, its objectives, and dimensions for evaluation are described. Drawing on questionnaire and interview data from health service and civil service staff, and secondary data, current performance evaluation and planning processes in the NHS are described and some problems identified.

To test the hypothesis that attention to systemic factors could improve performance evaluation, eight topics are analysed by the application of systems methodologies or models. Four of the topic and methodology or model combinations have received detailed analysis:

1. Making and implementing strategic plans; the Open University's Hard Systems Methodology.

2. Controlling NHS performance through structure and process, e. g. the use of annual reviews, performance indicators; double-loop learning and cybernetic control model.

3. Improving the quality of NHS care; Stafford Beer's Viable System Model.

4. Assessing performance through the outcomes of care; Peter Checkland's Soft Systems Methodology.

The areas studied in less detail are:

5. Planning for uncertainty and complexity;

6. Issues related to the politics of health;

7. Reducing the length of waiting lists and times;

8. Planning for health (health promotion and the prevention of ill health).

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