Is the traffic-light system as unfair as the much-loathed efficiency index?

Today we publish a feature designed to send a warning signal to the government about its impending 'traffic-light' system of performance rankings (see pages 22-25).

Research by the King's Fund has highlighted the potential shortcomings of such a device. The official rankings will not, of course, be the same, but neither are they likely to be significantly different. And under this system, 71 per cent of green-light health authorities are in the south while 83 per cent of red-light HAs are in the north.

If the Department of Health's version reflects similar results, it will be perceived to be unfair, inaccurate and an inadequate way to measure NHS performance.

That would be ironic and frustrating, given that it is intended as a far more sophisticated replacement for the much-loathed efficiency index, which embodied all the same faults.