Private Business Intermediaries

High Levels of Variability Within the NHS

20/08/2012 | By Sharmila Chauhan
A new report 'Older People and Emergency Bed Use - Exploring Variation' highlights a fourfold variation in the rate of hospital bed use by older people admitted as an emergency

What is surprising about the results is not just the variability in the rate of bed use but the reason behind it, or rather the lack of a clear reason. In part this difference could be attributed to the fact that older people have a different length of stay and rates of admission compared to the general population. However, the researchers were not able to establish a relationship with factors such as the number of GPs, the social care budget or the number of community beds.

The study is part of a growing body of evidence that shows that there is a high degree of variability within the NHS. Research within the King's Fund, found huge variation (up to 10 fold)  in rates of community nurse productivity and GP referral, within the health care system.

Threats of privatisation are rife within the NHS, and together with the increasing costs of healthcare will further increase this disparity rather than decrease it. Although the government is using a 'corporate' model, it fails to use 'corporate measures' when it comes to looking at outcomes or 'customer' satisfaction. Many people in the UK feel that this 'health care lottery' is just a fact of life and are ready to take the gamble.

Until better understanding is found as to the reasons why such a high level of variability is found within the NHS, many people may find themselves at the sharp end of the stick for no reason except that the might live in an area with 'poorer' service.

Instead of accepting this variability; an increasing number of people may find themselves turning to private healthcare and using health insurance as an alternative.