English hospitals can improve their performance

NHS hospitals have substantial scope to improve their efficiency by adopting best practice, according to research published today by Professor Andrew Street and colleagues at the Centre for Health Economics (CHE) at the University of York.

With the NHS facing severe funding constraints, it has been suggested that the greatest potential savings may come from increasing efficiencies and by reducing variations in clinical practices. When comparing hospitals, variations in practice of any form are often cited as evidence of inefficiency or poor performance and that the overall efficiency of the health system would improve if all hospitals were able to meet the standards of the best.

The CHE researchers assessed whether or not the higher cost or length of stay is due to the type of patients that hospitals treat.

For ten conditions, the researchers examined the cost and length of stay for every patient admitted to English hospitals during 2007/8. They looked at three medical conditions (; childbirth; stroke) and seven surgical treatments (appendectomy; breast cancer (mastectomy); ; cholecystectomy; inguinal hernia repair; hip replacement; and knee replacement).

Even after taking account of age, and other characteristics, patients in some hospitals still had substantially higher costs or longer length of stay than others. This pattern was evident in all ten clinical areas. Furthermore, these variations could not be explained by hospital characteristics such as size, teaching status, and how specialised the hospital was.

Andrew Street commented: “Our findings demonstrate that most hospitals have scope to make efficiency savings in at least one of the clinical areas considered by this study. Inexplicable higher costs or lengths of stay suggest room for improvement. Unless hospitals improve their use of resources, they could struggle financially.”

More information: Centre for Health Economics. English hospitals can improve their use of resources: analysis of costs and length of stay for ten treatments. CHE Research Paper 78, York: University of York.  Available at: www.york.ac.uk/che/publications/in-house/

Related Stories

Quality coronary bypass care can improve lives and cut costs

date Jul 29, 2010

A new analysis led by researchers at UCSF shows that avoiding lowest-volume hospitals and maximizing adherence to quality care processes are both effective approaches to reducing costs associated with coronary bypass surgery.

Prostate cancer surgery better at teaching hospitals

date Nov 07, 2011

Prostate cancer patients who undergo radical prostatectomy get better results at teaching hospitals than at non-academic medical institutions, according to the findings of an international study led by researchers at Henry ...

Recommended for you

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

date Apr 17, 2015

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

date Apr 17, 2015

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.