The Department of Health has appointed a consortium to develop a ‘Darling Dashboard’ that will proactively help the NHS to make the savings demanded by last week’s Budget.
The consortium of consultants, data analysts, and software developers has been asked to build a web-based application that will give the NHS real-time access to information about progress towards the £20 billion efficiency savings that must be made by 2013-14.
Controversially, the dashboard – which will officially be called the Budget User Service Tracker – will use patient identifiable data and tagging to spot patients making ‘inappropriate’ use of NHS services.
“It has become a commonplace of Business Intelligence developments to say that it is now possible for a chief executive to go on holiday with a laptop and to get an alert if a patient is about to breach the four hour waiting time target in A&E,” said one of the analysts involved.
“The new dashboard takes this a step further by spotting patients who shouldn’t be in A&E in the first place.
"The intention is to alert new teams to act on the information – by rugby tackling people out of the hospital car park and walking them down to Boots if necessary.”
Privacy campaigners branded the dashboard “appalling” and said they were planning a stiff letter to the Guardian in protest.
Meanwhile, doctors leaders said they were seeking urgent talks with the DH over the inclusion of BUST incentives in a new GP contract.
In last week’s Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling announced that the DH would be expected to find £4.5 billion of the £11 billion savings demanded from the public sector this year, with staff sickness, procurement and energy particular targets.
The DH will be expected to find £20 billion by 2013-14, and is looking for massive savings from improving chronic disease management, improving commissioning and procurement again.
Health secretary Andy Burnham said that finding the efficiency savings would be an “historic achievement” and one that would deliver on the government’s commitment to protect frontline services.
A DH spokesperson told E-Health Insider that the development of the Darling Dashboard would help those working in the NHS to do their bit.
“We’ve taken inspiration from the giant thermometers that you see outside churches. NHS staff will be able to see how their ideas and work drive the ‘red mercury’ of the dashboard up towards the target.”
The DH said it was also looking to healthcare workers who made a sterling contribution to the new agenda through a series of awards, immediately dubbed Darling’s Darlings by unions.