Sunday, 5 July 2015

Petition-driven healthcare decisions are a terrible idea

Change.org have sent me a petition calling for the NHS to provide strep B tests.

The accompanying text is quite emotional and I feel great sympathy for the writer, who lost their baby to B strep infection.

However, it is a bad idea to make decisions about treatment based on petitions like this, so I haven't signed.

The short reason why is here. That is the NHS's reasoning for not providing strep B tests for women. I have no idea which is right, as I am not a clinician or medical statistician. But the NHS reasoning is considerably more detailed – for instance, they have a FAQ.

I am sure the NHS's decision-making procedure is suboptimal. I bet there are systematic flaws and biases in it. But it is more trustworthy than a bunch of people clicking "yes, I'll sign" on an internet site after reading one couple's extremely sad story.