Media Release

Think Tank calls for greater accountability and transparency on NHS patient outcomes

New report urges Government to establish Office for Patient Outcomes

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank has today published a new report calling on the Government to establish an Office for Patient Outcomes (OPO), to act as an independent, authoritative and more complete source of data about NHS patient outcomes. The SMF report develops an idea initially proposed by AstraZeneca and warns that currently information about patient outcomes is too difficult for many different stakeholders to navigate and understand.

The report outlines the concept of a low-cost, high-impact innovation that would build on many of the strengths of the present system, while providing more patient-friendly information and a sharper accountability for improving patient outcomes. It would be based on the model established by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has provided greater transparency around public finances.

SMF Director and author of the report, Emran Mian, said:

“The Government keeps talking about ensuring patient voices are heard in the NHS, but right now patients lack access to information to help them make their voices heard and drive further improvements.

“The model used for the Office for Budget Responsibility could point the way to how similar issues on the provision of information, which used to exist in the public finances, could now be tackled in the health and care system.”

“An Office for Patient Outcomes could substantially improve information and accountability. We urge the Government to look at the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare as examples of what can be achieved in this area.”

Currently information about patient outcomes in spread over a range of reports and reporting bodies with little coordination between them. The SMF report points out that there are gaps in the information being reported, and there is little evidence to suggest that patients are using what information is available to hold the NHS to account. Research suggests that public awareness of outcomes data is low, and there are concerns about how user-friendly and trustworthy the information is.1

Commenting on the report, Lisa Anson, Country President, AstraZeneca UK & Ireland, said:

We are proud to support the idea of an Office for Patient Outcomes. AstraZeneca is a science-led organisation conducting large-scale cancer research in the UK, and we are committed to working collaboratively with an outcomes-driven NHS. As the SMF paper highlights, however, there is currently a lack of transparency around patient outcomes data. Providing a central source for that data would help shine a light on where improvements are needed and increase the accountability of the NHS to policymakers, the media and most importantly patients.”

Key points from the OPO report

  • There is a lot to be proud of in our national health and care system. Some patient outcomes are strong and much information about them is collected and made accessible to professionals and decision-makers.
  • There are nevertheless areas of patient outcomes, such as cancer survival rates, where the performance of our health and care system needs improvement.
  • Government has started putting more emphasis on ‘patient voice’, including in the Accelerated Access Review, as a way to improve services, but patients need to be better informed about outcomes. This proposal is about giving patients more complete information in an accessible way.
  • The OPO would aggregate information from a range of sources such as the NHS Outcomes Framework, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Care Quality Commission, and publish information in formats which were useful to both patients and decision makers.
  • An OPO should be based on the Office for Budget Responsibility model, which provides independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances, notably as we have seen around Budget announcements.


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Notes to editors:

The briefing paper, Office for Patient Outcomes, is available at

This paper was written by the SMF, developing an idea initially proposed by AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca has funded development of the report, but the SMF retains full editorial control.

About the Social Market Foundation

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) is a non-partisan think tank. We believe that fair markets, complemented by open public services, increase prosperity and help people to live well. We conduct research and run events looking at a wide range of economic and social policy areas, focusing on economic prosperity, public services and consumer markets. We engage with policymakers and opinion formers, including Ministers, MPs, civil servants, regulators, businesses, charities and the media. The SMF is resolutely independent, and the range of backgrounds and opinions among our staff, trustees and advisory board reflects this.


  1. Britain Thinks research for The Health Foundation. “Public Attitudes to General Practice Quality Indicators”. Available at: (last accessed March 2016)


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