Medicopolitical Digest

Cost of NHS operations varies widelyGovernment advises on food borne infectionsWMA aims to improve children's rights to health careGMC wants to limit scope of order making power

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1393

Cost of NHS operations varies widely

Surgical operations in England's most expensive hospitals are 58% more costly than in the least expensive, according to new league tables issued by the NHS Executive.

The New NHS. 1998 Reference Costs was compiled from information from 249 trusts and covers over 500 surgical operations, which involved £5bn of NHS spending and five million episodes of care. The cost of a hip replacement varied from £1834 to £6494, with an average of £3678, and the cost of a vasectomy ranged from £148 to over £1000 with an average of £332. The lowest cost trust is around 30% below average and the highest cost is around 60% above.

According to the index the most expensive trusts for surgery are the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the United Leeds Teaching Hospitals, and the least expensive are the Moorfields Eye Hospital and Dorset Healthcare.

The minister for health, Mr Alan Milburn, said that the government wanted hospitals to compare in public rather than in complete secret. High cost hospitals will face tough efficiency targets to improve quality …

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