Health Policy Matters

Health Policy Matters is designed to help senior health service managers find their way through the maze of new policy initiatives coming from central government. Published by the University of York, it will help decision makers keep pace with a rapidly developing health policy agenda. Articles are written by experts in their fields from the University. Issues are available in Adobe Acrobat format and can be downloaded from this site:

Issue 13:    September 2007
Health Policy Matters 13 (PDF  , 472kb)

Foundation Trusts in the NHS: does freedom make a difference?
The 2003 the UK Parliament passed the Health and Social Care Act to create a new type of organisation transforming English NHS Trusts into Foundation Trusts (FTs). FTs are independent not-for-profit public benefit corporations. They are required to meet national targets, like any other Trust, but have more freedom to decide how they achieve these standards.

Issue 12:    October 2006
Health Policy Matters 12 (PDF  , 72kb)

Demand management and administrative costs by results
There have been concerns about the ability of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to manage demand and control expenditure under Payment by Results and about the overall administrative costs of the arrangements. The latest edition of Health Policy Matters summarises two studies commissioned by the Department of Health, in which staff in hospital trusts and PCTs were interviewed about these concerns.

Issue 11: September 2005
Health Policy Matters 11 (PDF  , 472kb)

Practice based commissioning: a summary of the evidence
Since 1 April 2005, general practices in England can hold an indicative commissioning budget from their Primary Care Trust to manage the delivery of services for their patients. By promoting a policy of Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) the Department of Health envisages a range of beneficial outcomes for the delivery of health care services. This paper provides an overview of the GP budgeting literature, draws out policy implications of the review and looks forward at the emerging research agenda.

Issue 10: July 2005
Health Policy Matters 10 (PDF  , 148kb)

Nursing Challenges: are changes in the nursing role and skill mix improving patient care? 
National and local health policy is leading to significant changes in the skill mix of the health care workforce. Nurses are substituting for doctors, less qualified staff are substituting for registered nurses. Without a firm evidence base, these policy changes are little more than a large social experiment with poor evaluation of its risks, costs and benefits. This is one of the conclusions of this latest issue of Health Policy Matters, which has been published in conjunction with the Dr Foster Ethics Committee. The paper highlights the need for further research.

Issue 9: March 2004
Health Policy Matters 9 (PDF  , 76kb)

 Measuring success in Health care - the time has come to do it properly
How do we know if healthcare actually benefits patients? This issue of Health Policy Matters demonstrates how a well-validated measure of health related quality of life could be used to track changes in the health status of patients before and after treatment.

Issue 8 :  October 2003
Health Policy Matters 8 (PDF  , 79kb)

Do Those who Pay the Piper Call the Tune? 
Examines the effects of different systems of remuneration for doctors and the potential effects of an expensive revision of the contracts of general practitioners and consultants in the UK NHS. It concludes that the medical piper, rather than the NHS purchaser, still calls the tune.

Issue 7 :  September 2002
Health Policy Matters 7 (PDF  , 61kb)

Who is Directing the Traffic to Europe - the European Court of Justice or the Department of Health? 
Examines the background to the recent Department of Health decision to allow NHS contracting with overseas hospitals and directs the attention of Trusts and PCTs to recent information on the use of this scheme for offering patients choice of overseas providers.

Issue 6 :  December 2001
Health Policy Matters 6 (PDF  , 95kb)

National Service Framework for Older People: Jigsaws of Care
Looks at the background to the National Service Framework for Older people and explores ways in which the 'jigsaws' of care can be delivered.

Issue 5 : September 2001
Health Policy Matters 5 (PDF  , 67kb)

NHS Dentistry - Modern and Dependable?
Explores the current challenges facing dentistry following the publication of the national dental plan, in the context of major inequalities in both dental and health care generally.

Issue 4 :  May 2001
Health Policy Matters 4 (PDF  , 81kb)

Promoting Quality in the NHS
Explores some of the challenges of quality - a key NHS priority - and provides some helpful advice for local decision makers on developing practical systems for tacking the quality agenda.

Issue 3 : January 2001
Health Policy Matters 3 (PDF  , 86kb)

Performance Measurement in the New NHS
Explores some of the potential traps and pitfalls in performance management and offers some 'golden rules' to assist in developing a dynamic, inclusive, relevant and flexible process.

Issue 2 : May 2000
Health Policy Matters 2 (PDF  , 76kb)

Mental Health
Looks at the key standards in the NSF for Mental Health and examines the evidence for effective strategies.  It identifies the implications and lists action points for services and local stakeholders.

Issue 1 : January 2000
Health Policy Matters 1 (PDF  , 71kb)

Saving Lives
Focuses on Saving Lives - the government health strategy White Paper, which aims to improve the health of everyone and the health of the worst off in particular.  This issue summarises the White Paper, provides a commentary and discusses the implications for local policy makers.

Issue 1 : January 2000
hpmsup - health policy matters 1 (PDF  , 133kb)

Supplement on Social Policy Health Policy Matters seeks to make the best use of  'joined up thinking'  - the first issue was accompanied by a special supplement featuring important social policy initiatives which managers need to know about. These have an impact on health, such as child poverty, housing, and social security.

"It's not easy for chairs, non-executives, chief executives and senior managers to keep pace with the developing agenda. They need to be aware, to understand and to know what is expected of them. This will help them to keep in touch with the developing policy agenda and make a real contribution to their work in establishing the new NHS".

Ken Jarrold, Chief Executive, County Durham & Tees Valley Health Authority.

Other useful links:

HSJ Health Service Journal

Health Policy Matters is distributed free of charge to executives, chairs and senior managers responsible for implementing health care policy in England. It may be photocopied freely and the text is also available on this web site. Please contact us with your feedback on:

Health Policy Matters is published with the aid of an educational grant from Pfizer Limited.