Smaller trusts are outperforming their larger counterparts on several measures, research by healthcare data company CHKS reveals.
According to the analysis, trusts with fewer than 350 beds beat larger hospitals on average day case rates while their patients had shorter waits between referrals and treatment.
Average day case rates were recorded as 105 for small trusts against 101 for their larger counterparts. The average rate was 100.
Referral to treatment rates were one day less for small trusts: 21 days compare with 22 for their larger counterparts.
Jason Harries, managing director of CHKS, said smaller hospital trusts were “holding their own” on performance.
“There are instances where larger trust performance will be better, but it is worth looking at these areas [where smaller trusts’ performance is better] to see whether anything can be learned from smaller trusts.”
Senior research analyst at the Nuffield Trust, Ian Blunt, described the findings as “statistically significant” but questioned their “practical significance”.
“In terms of the wider debate going on at the moment I think the idea that we have to choose between large hospitals or small hospitals is a false dichotomy,” he added.
“What we really should be thinking is what service model is appropriate for what type of need.”
“We know that centralisation in many cases is a very good thing, like in stroke and trauma, and some of [NHS England chief executive Simon] Stevens’ recent comments are more about encouraging diversity in models of care.”