Parliamentary committee questions NHS performance targets


There is currently no way to assess the level of investment being made by the NHS to fully meet performance targets and a parliamentary committee has today questioned if meeting these targets remains an efficient use of public money.

The Health and Sport Committee’s report into the budgets of NHS Boards asks the Government if there could be some flexibility in the targets. The Committee heard that there is no assessment made of how much it costs Boards to meet the final percentage points of the HEAT targets which measure individual NHS Boards performance in key areas.  

Therefore where a Boards performance may only be 1 or 2 per cent below the target the Committee is asking if the money spent achieving these may be better spent elsewhere.  

Convener of the Committee Duncan McNeil MSP said:   

“Our NHS boards have a total budget of over £9 billion and it is the role of this committee to scrutinise how this is being spent. The use of targets in the NHS has long been controversial. 

“Whilst there clearly needs to be some measurement of output and delivery, our Committee has questioned if meeting that final percentage of performance targets is really the best use of public money. 

“Given that there is no way to measure the amount of investment that goes into this, we are calling for the Government to consider whether there should be flexibility in the targets to ensure any investment goes towards actual improvements in the quality of care.” 

The report also looked at proposals for the integration of health and social care and found that different models and approaches were being adopted across Scotland. 

Deputy Convener of the Committee Bob Doris MSP said: 

“Clearly the integration of health and social care is a process that is only just beginning but if we get it right it will unlock huge benefits for the delivery of care.  

“This is why as part of this process we’ve asked the Scottish Government to consider if the variation between Boards in the level of resource transferred to Integrated Joint Boards is reasonable. This will be critical to the operation of these Boards going forward.” 


HEAT targets are the NHS Scotland performance targets. “HEAT” is an acronym for the four categories of indicators: Health improvement, Efficiency and governance, Access and Treatment. 

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