What is it about?

Around 55% of a person's lifetime use of a hospital bed is compressed into the last year of life, irrespective of the age at death. This is called the nearness to death effect and refutes the notion that age is the most important factor in hospital bed demand. The ratio of beds per death can therefore be used as an alternative method to compare bed numbers between countries. England ranks toward the less developed countries.

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Why is it important?

Doctors and the public need to know if their country has an adequate number of hospital beds. The current ratio of beds per population is too crude to be meaningful. New Zealand is given as an example of a country with a low ratio of beds per death but which has many years of working toward a high level of integrated care. Indeed, New Zealand started reducing its ratio of occupied medical beds per death from 2001 onward.


After three decades of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) the UK and especially England has far too few beds relative to its level of integrated care. Operational chaos is the end result. Indeed give that the nearness to death effect is a scientific fact, we must ask the uncomfortable question as to why the soon to be dead are being sent to an acute hospital in such large numbers. Hence the notion that end-of-life care needs to be redesigned.

Dr Rodney P Jones
Healthcare Analysis & Forecasting

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Hospital beds per death how does the UK compare globally?, British Journal of Healthcare Management, December 2018, Mark Allen Group, DOI: 10.12968/bjhc.2018.24.12.617.
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