Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    What impact did the creation of Local Health Care Co-operatives have on indicators of practice resources and activity?
    McLean, G ; Sutton, M (BMC, 2008-05-16)
    BACKGROUND: The creation of Local Health Care Cooperatives (LHCCs) in Scotland in 1999 was typical of attempts to encourage voluntary integration and co-operation between health care providers. One of the three stated objectives of their introduction was to tackle inequalities and improve access to care. METHODS: We used administrative data on all general practices in 1999 and 2003 to examine whether LHCCs had any measurable impact on six indicators of practice resources and activity. We compare three groups (participant, non-participant, and ineligible practices) through regression analysis of changes over time in group means and within-group inequality (measured using Gini coefficients). In addition, for participants we measure changes in the variation between and within LHCCs. RESULTS: Despite having similar registered populations to participants, non-participants had lower levels of resources at the start of the period and this differential widened over time. The changes over time in the activity indicators were similar across the three groups. There was little evidence that inequality between LHCC practices narrowed more than in the other two groups. Practices within LHCCs appear to be become more homogenous while variation increased between LHCCs. CONCLUSION: The mixed messages from our examination of resources and activity indicators demonstrates that there are likely to be important lessons to be learned from the brief experiment with LHCCs. Clear objectives that are evaluated using a battery of simple performance indicators may help to ensure demonstrable change in future initiatives to foster integration and co-operation.
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    Differences in the quality of primary medical care for CVD and diabetes across the NHS: evidence from the quality and outcomes framework
    McLean, G ; Guthrie, B ; Sutton, M (BMC, 2007-05-29)
    BACKGROUND: Health policy in the UK has rapidly diverged since devolution in 1999. However, there is relatively little comparative data available to examine the impact of this natural experiment in the four UK countries. The Quality and Outcomes Framework of the 2004 General Medical Services Contract provides a new and potentially rich source of comparable clinical quality data through which we compare quality of primary medical care for coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, hypertension and diabetes across the four UK countries. METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis was undertaken involving 10,064 general practices in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The main outcome measures were prevalence rates for CHD, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. Achievement on 14 simple process, 3 complex process, 9 intermediate outcome and 5 treatment indicators for the four clinical areas. RESULTS: Prevalence varies by up to 28% between the four UK countries, which is not reflected in resource distribution between countries, and penalises practices in the high prevalence countries (Wales and Scotland). Differences in simple process measures across countries are small. Larger differences are found for complex process, intermediate outcome and treatment measures, most notably for Wales, which has consistently lower quality of care. Scotland has generally higher quality than England and Northern Ireland is most consistently the highest quality. CONCLUSION: Previously identified weaknesses in Wales related to waiting times appear to reflect a more general quality problem within NHS Wales. Identifying explanations for the observed differences is limited by the lack of comparable data on practice resources and organisation. Maximising the value of cross-jurisdictional comparisons of the ongoing natural experiment of health policy divergence within the UK requires more detailed examination of resource and organisational differences.