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LSE research on hospital competition is referenced in prime minister's speech on the NHS

On Tuesday 7 June, in a key speech on NHS policy, the prime minister referenced research carried out by a team of academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). This research is also being heavily cited across White Hall as policy-makers debate the future of controversial health care reforms being proposed by the current government.

Does Hospital Competition Save Lives? Evidence from the English NHS Patient Choice Reforms was authored by Dr Zack Cooper (Centre for Economic Performance), Dr Stephen Gibbons (Department of Geography and Environment), Dr Simon Jones and Professor Alistair McGuire (both LSE Health), and was published in January 2010.

The paper examined whether or not hospitals exposed to competition lowered their death rates more quickly than hospitals located in monopoly markets, after competition was introduced into the NHS in 2006. The authors found that hospitals facing more competition took steps to improve their quality and management, which resulted in lower death rates and improved patient outcomes. They also found, in separate work, that hospital competition in the NHS improved hospitals’ efficiency.

In his speech, David Cameron outlined the outlined his plans for the NHS reform. He said: “Put simply: competition is one way we can make things work better for patients. This isn’t ideological theory.

“A study published by the London School of Economics found hospitals in areas with more choice had lower death rates.

“And there’s now real evidence that England is delivering more for its money than any of the devolved nations, in part because of the competitive reforms initiated by Tony Blair and Alan Milburn..”

Read the full LSE study at www2.lse.ac.uk/LSEHealthAndSocialCare/LSEHealth/pdf/Workingpapers/WP16.pdf

Dr Zack Cooper, the lead author on the study, can be contacted at:
Email: z.cooper@lse.ac.uk
Mobile: 07725 898597