A white paper published in July 2010 in the UK, “Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS”, refers to interventional radiology for the very first time. The white paper, a document issued by the British government and presented to Parliament, sets out the vision of the current coalition government for UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The document outlines the focus of strategy changes to the NHS: at the heart of the vision is the patient who will have access to more information, more choice and control; there will also be a relentless focus on clinical outcomes, and empowering of professionals and providers, giving them more autonomy and, in return, making them more accountable for the results they achieve.
Specifically, under the section “Incentives for quality improvement”, the white paper says: “The absence of an effective payment system in many parts of the NHS severely restricts the ability of commissioners and providers to improve outcomes, increase efficiency and increase patient choice. In future, the structure of payment systems will be the responsibility of the NHS Commissioning Board, and the economic regulator will be responsible for pricing. In the meantime the Department will start designing and implementing a more comprehensive, transparent and sustainable structure of payment for performance so that money follows the patient and reflects quality. […]The Department will also refine the basis of current tariffs. We will rapidly accelerate the development of best-practice tariffs, introducing an increasing number each year, so that providers are paid according to the costs of excellent care, rather than average price. 2011/12 will see the introduction of best-practice tariffs for interventional radiology, day-case surgery for breast surgery, hernia repairs and some orthopaedic surgery.”
Interestingly, Interventional News has learnt from Andy Adam, president of the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and one of the editors-in-chief of the newspaper that Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, mentioned interventional radiology in a recent meeting and recognised the importance of getting the tariffs right.
Adam said, “The new system in the UK, which will involve direct commissioning by general practitioners, offers great opportunities for interventional radiology.”
The UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) has also recognised interventional radiology as a subspecialty, and with this interventional radiology is now the only subspecialty of radiology.
For several years interventional radiologists had been functioning within the paradox of playing a vital role in patient care, but without any formal recognition as distinct medical specialists from several authorities.
On the British Society of Interventional Radiology’s website, Andy Adam, president of the Royal College of Radiologists writes: “In turn, this will lead to the establishment of designated posts, boosting recruitment and enabling us to offer a more complete service to our patients.”