The history of Dr Foster’s Hospital Guide is a microcosm of the last decade’s debate over healthcare quality.

The first guide, published at the turn of the century, was greeted with horror by many in the NHS, who fiercely resented the public knowing how well their organisation was performing.

Over time many in medical and general management learned the publication of data could be used to bring difficult issues to the surface and to drive performance. The guide’s publication provided a high profile annual boost to this trend.

Then, as the debate matured, the controversy moved on to the accuracy and relevance of the data used to measure performance. Last year’s bust-up over the guide’s new patient safety indicators provided a perfect example.

The Hospital Guide is - on balance - a force for good. But it will best serve its purpose if NHS managers and senior clinicians are able to shape its measures. That is why we approached Dr Foster with the idea of consulting with HSJ’s readers over the metrics it plans to use in the 2010 guide.

Share your views

It is to Dr Foster’s credit that it agreed. Readers can now visit and offer their views on the proposed measures.

The consultation period is a necessarily short one to fit in with the guide’s production schedule - so do not delay. HSJ hopes as many readers as possible will take this important opportunity to influence the debate over healthcare quality, which gathers momentum with every passing year.

Dr Foster consults on the Good Hospital guide