A report commissioned by the NHS and Public Health England has identified a significant contrast in the availability of key healthcare services across the country, putting many patients lives at risk.
The Atlas of Variation identifies where there is a disparity in the availability of NHS services around the country. The report is a ‘stock take’ of the 211 clinical commissioning groups throughout the UK, compiling official data from over 100 different areas of care.
Some areas of care, for example liver disease and tooth decay, can often be attributed to a patient’s lifestyle. However, the findings have highlighted a severe imbalance between the variation of early cancer diagnosis and urgent stroke treatment.
Image: Public Health England
In the worst performing areas of the country, one in three patients who suffer a stroke are admitted to a specialist unit within four hours. Data related to cancer diagnosis shows only three in ten patients have their illness caught at an early stage in the same under performing locations.
Comparing those statistics to the best performing areas of the UK, eight in ten people who suffer a stroke are admitted to a specialist unit within the same four hour time period. While 56% of those diagnosed with cancer are caught at an early stage of the disease.
Despite the extreme variations in access to care across the UK, the most common ‘escalated’ complaint from patients is not receiving a good enough apology from the NHS when things go wrong.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found this was the reason for 34% of cases they investigated in 2014-15. The report also recognised a rise of almost double the number of investigated complaints compared to 2013-14.
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