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DH-commissioned study ranks hospital trusts' efficiency

An unpublished league table produced for the Department of Health has ranked 163 hospital trusts in order of how efficiently they treat inpatients.

The list was drawn up by York University’s centre for health economics and submitted to the DH in February as part of research into whether top-ups paid to specialist hospitals were justified.

Eight of the 20 trusts at the bottom of the efficiency table were specialist trusts, reinforcing the researchers’ argument that specialist hospitals’ increased costs were not entirely due to the more expensive treatments they provide.

Five of the 20 were foundation trusts and five were in London.

The most efficient organisation was named as Newham University Hospital Trust in London, while the least efficient was Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Read more about Newham University Hospital Trust

The rankings reflect cost efficiencies in admitted patient care and exclude outpatients, accident and emergency and mental health services.

While the main findings of the study have been previously published, the DH refused to hand over the list without a Freedom of Information Act request.

Basildon and Thurrock deputy director of finance Andy Ray said the data was based on 2008-09 figures, which coincided with the opening of a new cardiothoracic centre at the trust.

He said: “We had start-up costs and had planned not to run to full capacity in the first year, which makes our cost base look artificially high.”

The trust ended that financial year £3.6m in surplus, he added.

Other trusts ranked in the bottom five for efficiency were Great Ormond Street Hospital, Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Barts and The London and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.

A Barts spokeswoman said: “We wonder how the study has handled the substantial costs associated with running the largest major trauma centre in England.”

Since 2008-09, the trust had improved performance and efficiency, she said, and last year delivered its surplus target while investing in new cancer facilities.

The other three trusts did not comment.

A DH statement accompanying the Freedom of Information release stated that the rankings were “indicative of an overall ranking” and were “not a precise measure of differences in efficiency”.

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