Health Equity Indicators for the English NHS: a longitudinal whole-population study at the small-area level

Cookson, R, Asaria, M, Ali, S, Ferguson, B, Fleetcroft, R, Goddard, M, Goldblatt, P, Laudicella, M and Raine, R (2016) Health Equity Indicators for the English NHS: a longitudinal whole-population study at the small-area level. Health Services and Delivery Research, 4 (26). ISSN 2050-4349

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Background: Inequalities in health-care access and outcomes raise concerns about quality of care and justice, and the NHS has a statutory duty to consider reducing them. Objectives: The objectives were to (1) develop indicators of socioeconomic inequality in health-care access and outcomes at different stages of the patient pathway; (2) develop methods for monitoring local NHS equity performance in tackling socioeconomic health-care inequalities; (3) track the evolution of socioeconomic health-care inequalities in the 2000s; and (4) develop ‘equity dashboards’ for communicating equity findings to decision-makers in a clear and concise format. Design: Longitudinal whole-population study at the small-area level. Setting: England from 2001/2 to 2011/12. Participants: A total of 32,482 small-area neighbourhoods (lower-layer super output areas) of approximately 1500 people. Main outcome measures: Slope index of inequality gaps between the most and least deprived neighbourhoods in England, adjusted for need or risk, for (1) patients per family doctor, (2) primary care quality, (3) inpatient hospital waiting time, (4) emergency hospitalisation for chronic ambulatory care-sensitive conditions, (5) repeat emergency hospitalisation in the same year, (6) dying in hospital, (7) mortality amenable to health care and (8) overall mortality. Data sources: Practice-level workforce data from the general practice census (indicator 1), practice-level Quality and Outcomes Framework data (indicator 2), inpatient hospital data from Hospital Episode Statistics (indicators 3–6) and mortality data from the Office for National Statistics (indicators 6–8). Results: Between 2004/5 and 2011/12, more deprived neighbourhoods gained larger absolute improvements on all indicators except waiting time, repeat hospitalisation and dying in hospital. In 2011/12, there was little measurable inequality in primary care supply and quality, but inequality was associated with 171,119 preventable hospitalisations and 41,123 deaths amenable to health care. In 2011/12, > 20% of Clinical Commissioning Groups performed statistically significantly better or worse than the England equity benchmark. Limitations: General practitioner supply is a limited measure of primary care access, need in deprived neighbourhoods may be underestimated because of a lack of data on multimorbidity, and the quality and outcomes indicators capture only one aspect of primary care quality. Health-care outcomes are adjusted for age and sex but not for other risk factors that contribute to unequal health-care outcomes and may be outside the control of the NHS, so they overestimate the extent of inequality for which the NHS can reasonably be held responsible. Conclusions: NHS actions can have a measurable impact on socioeconomic inequality in both health-care access and outcomes. Reducing inequality in health-care outcomes is more challenging than reducing inequality of access to health care. Local health-care equity monitoring against a national benchmark can be performed using any administrative geography comprising ≥ 100,000 people.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Public Health and Health Services Research (former - to 2023)
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2016 17:00
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 02:33
DOI: 10.3310/hsdr04260


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