Equity in health care Health needs vary among elderly people

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6948.198 (Published 16 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:198
  1. E S Williams,
  2. C M Scott
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, Croydon Health, Croydon, Surrey CR9 2RH
  2. Moorgreen Hospital, Southampton SO3 3JB.

    EDITOR, - Allocating resources according to the health needs of the population remains one of the central values of the NHS.1 Ken Judge and Nicholas Mays have reviewed some of the weaknesses associated with the current method of allocation but do not fully explain the fundamental flaw in the use of the age-cost curve.2 The reason for using an age factor is that elderly people are widely believed to have greater health needs than younger people, and the underlying assumption is that all elderly people have the same health needs.

    To test this hypothesis we examined the relation between the proportion of elderly people (aged over 65) in the population and the proportion of pensioners who were aged over 75 and living alone for the 28 districts in South Thames region, using 1991 census data. Our analysis showed a highly significant inverse relation between the variables (correlation coefficient r=-0.49, r2=0.24, …

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