Founded in 1983 and as one of the first university departments of its type, the Centre for Health Economics is a leading influence on UK health policy, helping shape the way society thinks about health and health care. And as the NHS grapples with financial pressures combined with one of the most controversial and far reaching reorganisations in its history, research carried out in CHE looks set to remain central to decisions about where and how increasingly limited budgets are spent.
It’s not our job to make the decisions, but to ensure they are informed by sound science. Economics is not just about looking at the costs and benefits of a new drug, treatment or service but also, in a world of limited budgets, the consequences of making that decision in terms of what cannot then be provided for other patients, says CHE Director, Professor Maria Goddard.
Over the last three decades, CHE has examined the economic case for drugs and treatments available for some of our most enduring health conditions including cancer, asthma and heart disease. We have studied the effectiveness of public health campaigns targeting smoking and alcohol, examined waiting times, hospital efficiency and compared the costs and benefits of hundreds of surgical techniques and interventions. These sorts of decisions have been made throughout the history of the health service, but it is better they are made on the basis of objective evidence and research and that’s what CHE provides.
Work carried out has included the development of the formula used for more than 20 years to allocate health resources equitably across England, a model which influenced the approach taken in countries such as Brazil and Finland. CHE also developed the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) measurement, the gold standard measure of the quantity and quality of life, a concept which underpins NICE assessments. The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses variations of the QALY measurement for planning health services around the globe.
CHE has a team of 50 economists who are in constant demand at conferences around the world and who regularly advise governments and policy makers both in the UK and abroad. A programme of expert workshops attracts over 300 people a year from all over the world to be trained in the methods developed by CHE researchers. The work of CHE was recognised in 2007 when the Queen’s Anniversary Prize was awarded. In 2014 we obtained an Athena SWAN Bronze award which recognises our commitment to good practice in recruiting, retaining and supporting the careers of women.