Merging hospitals may not have the intended benefits, suggests study

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 13 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e385
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Merging hospitals has little effect beyond reducing admissions, a study shows. It does not improve financial performance, clinical quality, or productivity, and increases the time patients have to wait for elective treatments.

The study, published as a working paper by Carol Propper of the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at Bristol University and colleagues, takes advantage of the wave of hospital mergers that took place between 1997 and 2004 to compare the performance of hospitals that merged against a group of matched hospitals that did not.

The mergers were driven by the failure of some hospital …

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