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Could the rise in mortality rates since 2015 be explained by changes in the number of delayed discharges of NHS patients?
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  • Published on:
    A chicken and egg conundrum
    • Rodney P Jones, Statistical Advisor Healthcare Analysis & Forecasting

    This paper is a welcome addition to attempts to explain the effects of the increased deaths in 2015 and beyond. Based on a 25-year career in NHS analysis and demand forecasting may I point out that these recurring periods of higher deaths and medical admissions are always accompanied by higher delayed discharges. Observations such as the association between delayed discharges and deaths/medical admissions have, unfortunately, never been published, however, the curious association between increased deaths and medical admissions has been published. Rather than cite over 100 studies the reader is advised to go to a list of publications at where multiple aspects of cause and effect and possible causes have been explored.

    Time lags are evident, with unexplained increased deaths always lagging unexplained increased emergency admissions, and lags between males and females evident in very small area geographies. Admissions for particular diagnoses rise while others fall during these curious events. Casemix severity may well be affected.

    While it is clear that austerity has only exacerbated the impact of the current event on delayed discharges, as noted by the authors, I would be reluctant to say which trends are cause and effect, and which trends arise from association rather than causation.

    The clear message is that far more research is required by both...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.