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Patient visiting and the siting of hospitals in rural areas
  1. K. W. Cross,
  2. R. D. Turner
  1. Department of Social Medicine, University of Birmingham


    For a period of one week all visitors to Shropshire patients in geriatric, psychiatric, and subnormality hospitals were asked to give details of their journey to hospital, including the addresses from which they set out. These data, together with those of the patients in hospital that week, were used to examine (1) the effect of distance of the patient's home from hospital upon the frequency of visiting; and (2) the likely consequences of adopting a policy of concentration of all resources at two district general hospitals. Whereas greater distances between home and hospital (up to 20 miles) resulted in little reduction in the frequency of visiting of short-stay (less than six months) geriatric patients and of both short and long-stay psychiatric patients, they resulted in much less frequent visiting of long-stay geriatric patients. The large majority of subnormality patients were in hospitals outside the County; relatively large distances only were involved and it was not possible to examine this issue for these patients. It was concluded that in this predominantly rural area, the provision of all hospital services at two district general hospital sites would, on the whole, greatly reduce distances travelled by visitors to psychiatric patients and to subnormal patients, and would increase distances to geriatric patients. From the point of view of patient visiting there is certainly a case for siting long-stay (over six months) geriatric patients in units near to their homes, and possibly psychiatric and subnormal patients if their homes are at inconvenient distances from the district general hospital.

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