Document Type: Commentary
Health Quality Intelligence, Health Quality and Safety Commission, Wellington, New Zealand
Tenbensel and colleagues identify that a target for emergency department (ED) stays in New Zealand met with gaming in response from local hospitals. The result is in line with studies in other jurisdictions. The enthusiasm for targets and tight performance measurement in some health systems reflects a lack of trust in professionals to do the right thing for altruistic reasons. However such measurement systems have failed to address this loss of trust and may, ironically, have worsened the situation. A more promising approach for both improving performance and restoring trust may depend upon collaboration and partnership between consumers, local providers, and central agencies in agreeing and tracking appropriate local responses to high level national goals rather than imposing tight, and potentially misleading measures from the centre.