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Hospital care “a regional lottery”


29 August, 2008  

Patients in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may have vastly different experiences of NHS hospital care depending on which region they live in, according to a report.

Discrepancies occur in the number of patients admitted and discharged on the same day and in the numbers of people attending A&E, an analysis for the Health Service Journal (HSJ) found.

But Dr Nick Goodwin, from the King’s Fund health think-tank, said the data should be interpreted with caution as it is collected differently in each area.

He also warned that the data did not take into account existing health inequalities or the infrastructure in place before different policies were adopted by each government.

The HSJ data showed a 37% increase in A&E attendances in England between 2004 and 2007. In the three other countries, the rate rose by no more than 3%.

The HSJ said there had been a 43% rise in the proportion of emergency admissions discharged on the same day in England between 2004 and 2007.

Meanwhile, in Wales the rise was 34% and in Northern Ireland it was 12%. But in Scotland the percentage fell by 2%.

Other differences included the fact that patients having an elective operation in England were 40% more likely to be treated as a day case than patients in Scotland.

Healthcare information providers CHKS analysed statistics from the four nations for the HSJ.

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