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Long live the database state

Smarter use of public service statistics can save lives as well as money. But anxious civil libertarians want to stop the state sharing our personal records. They must not succeed

By Tim Kelsey   August 2009

Brian Jarman, emeritus professor of general practice at Imperial College, is a kindly looking man. He is famous in medicine for designing the statistical model that was used to pay GPs (the Jarman Index); leading the campaign to keep Barts Hospital open; and, 15 years ago and perhaps most notably, devising a way of predicting how likely patients are to die in hospital. That analysis revealed that death rates in England, even when controlled for variables like a patient’s age or class, differed by up to 76 per cent.

Death rates are not universally accepted as the best way to…

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