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Hospital deaths fall more quickly in England than in Scotland over past 17 years

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 22 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k889
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

The number of hospital deaths has fallen more quickly in England than in Scotland since 1997, an analysis of administrative data has shown.1

The differences are substantial, said Maria José Aragón and Martin Chalkley of the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York, and apply to both emergency and elective care. Explaining the divergence is not possible from the data sources they used, they said, but finding an explanation “has great potential importance for policy makers.”

Since powers over the NHS in Scotland were devolved to the Scottish parliament in 1999, the two systems have diverged, providing a natural experiment that should enable comparisons to be made. Attempts to do so have, however, been bedevilled by a failure to ensure that healthcare data are gathered in the same way each side of the border. Even comparing waiting times is not simple.

The …

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