Objective: To investigate the impact of including private-sector data on assessments of equity of coronary revascularisation provision using NHS data only.
Design: Analyses of hospital episodes statistics and private-sector data by age, sex and primary care trust (PCT) of residence. For each PCT, the share of London’s total population and revascularisations (all admissions, NHS-funded, and privately-funded admissions) were calculated. Gini coefficients were derived to provide an index of inequality across subpopulations, with parametric bootstrapping to estimate confidence intervals.
Participants: London residents undergoing coronary revascularisation April 2001–December 2003.
Intervention: Coronary artery bypass graft or angioplasty.
Main outcome measures: Directly standardised revascularisation rates, Gini coefficients.
Results: NHS-funded age-standardised revascularisation rates varied from 95.2 to 193.9 per 100 000 and privately funded procedures from 7.6 to 57.6. Although the age distribution did not vary by funding, the proportion of revascularisations among women that were privately funded (11.0%) was lower than among men (17.0%). Privately funded rates were highest in PCTs with the lowest death rates (p = 0.053). NHS-funded admission rates were not related to deprivation nor age-standardised deaths rates from coronary heart disease. Privately funded admission rates were lower in more deprived PCTs. NHS provision was significantly more egalitarian (Gini coefficient 0.12) than the private sector (0.35). Including all procedures was significantly less equal (0.13) than NHS-funded care alone.
Conclusion: Private provision exacerbates geographical inequalities. Those responsible for commissioning care for defined populations must have access to consistent data on provision of treatment wherever it takes place.
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Competing interests: MM is a member of BUPA’s Medical Advisory Panel and chair of the LHO’s Expert Advisory Council.
Funding: This work was funded by an R&D grant from the Department of Health to increase access to non-routinely available data.
Contributors: JM had the initial idea, persuaded the private providers to release their data to the LHO and interpreted the results. EK prepared the data and conducted the analyses. JF supervised the analyses. NM negotiated with the private providers, wrote data confidentiality and transfer protocols and obtained the private providers’ datasets. MM commented on the analyses and drafted the paper. CS undertook additional analyses on the Gini coefficients. All authors commented on the draft manuscript and approved the final version. JM is guarantor.
Ethics approval: Release of data was approved by the relevant authorities in each private sector provider. All public health observatories have been granted access to hospital episode statistics by the Patient Information Advisory Group. The LHO’s use of the data was carried out in accordance with the information centre’s “HES Protocol” documentation.