Average distance for emergency admissions

The distance that people have to travel in order to receive emergency care can have implications on their outcome. We look at the average home to hospital distances to gauge the level of access that people have to emergency care across England, and how this has changed since 2001/02.

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In 2011/12 the average distance from a patient's home to the hospital in which they received an emergency admission was 8.7 km. This has risen slightly from 8.3 km in 2001/02. The average distance varied substantially across the country from Camden in London with an average of 2.5 km, to Eden District in Cumbria with an average of 34.2 km.

Source: 
Health & Social Care Information Centre, Hospital Episode Statistics (Copyright 2013, Re-used with the permission of the Health & Social Care Information Centre. All rights reserved)
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The average distance can mask the distribution within areas. We therefore also looked at the proportion of admissions in a local authority that occurred over 20 km from a patient's home.

For the majority of local authorities (67% in 2011/12), at least 90% of the emergency admissions occurred within 20 km. But there are some local authorities (13 in 2011/12) for which over 70% of the emergency admissions occurred over 20 km from home. However, these are all rural areas, with relatively lower populations.

Source: 
Health & Social Care Information Centre, Hospital Episode Statistics (Copyright 2013, Re-used with the permission of the Health & Social Care Information Centre. All rights reserved)
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There was little or no change (less than 1 km) in the average distance from home to hospital for emergency admissions for three-quarters of local authorities between 2001/02 and 2011/12. Of the 91 local authorities with a change greater than 1 km, 20 saw a decrease by between 1 and 15 km, 62 increased by between 1 and 5 km, and nine increased by between 5 and 15 km.

Source: 
Health & Social Care Information Centre, Hospital Episode Statistics (Copyright 2013, Re-used with the permission of the Health & Social Care Information Centre. All rights reserved)
About this data

The distance from home to hospital was calculated as the straight line distance between the postcode for hospital site, and the population weighted lower super output area of the patient’s home address. The hospital site and patient’s home address are both recorded in the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES).

Emergency admissions were identified as those with an admission method code of between 21 and 25, or 28.

Distances over 80 km were removed to reduce the impact of people receiving emergency treatment while visiting another part of the country.

Comments

What a shame this does not cover Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That the reports are not UK wide should be made clearer in emails notifications and marketing of these reports.

Will all Quality Watch reports exclude these nations?

Aled Jones (not verified)
(changed )

Dear Aled,

Thank you very much for your interest in the QualityWatch programme and your comments.

The programme is primarily focused on the NHS and social care in England, but will draw on evidence from other UK and international health systems.

Some of the quality indicators we have already published do include international comparisons (for example our indicator on Childhood Survival - http://www.qualitywatch.org.uk/indicator/infant-mortality) and we will build on this as we add to to and develop the indicator set.

In future, we will try to make it clearer in our marketing and e-communications if our analysis is focused on England or is UK-wide.

Kind regards,

The QualityWatch Team

QualityWatch Team (not verified)
(changed )

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