BMJ open 2017 11 157(11) e017722 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017722
Since 2010, England has experienced relative constraints in public expenditure on healthcare (PEH) and social care (PES). We sought to determine whether these constraints have affected mortality rates.
We collected data on health and social care resources and finances for England from 2001 to 2014. Time trend analyses were conducted to compare the actual mortality rates in 2011-2014 with the counterfactual rates expected based on trends before spending constraints. Fixed-effects regression analyses were conducted using annual data on PES and PEH with mortality as the outcome, with further adjustments for macroeconomic factors and resources. Analyses were stratified by age group, place of death and lower-tier local authority (n=325). Mortality rates to 2020 were projected based on recent trends.
Spending constraints between 2010 and 2014 were associated with an estimated 45 368 (95% CI 34 530 to 56 206) higher than expected number of deaths compared with pre-2010 trends. Deaths in those aged ≥60 and in care homes accounted for the majority. PES was more strongly linked with care home and home mortality than PEH, with each £10 per capita decline in real PES associated with an increase of 5.10 (3.65-6.54) (p<0.001) care home deaths per 100 000. These associations persisted in lag analyses and after adjustment for macroeconomic factors. Furthermore, we found that changes in real PES per capita may be linked to mortality mostly via changes in nurse numbers. Projections to 2020 based on 2009-2014 trend was cumulatively linked to an estimated 152 141 (95% CI 134 597 and 169 685) additional deaths. CONCLUSIONS
Spending constraints, especially PES, are associated with a substantial mortality gap. We suggest that spending should be targeted on improving care delivered in care homes and at home; and maintaining or increasing nurse numbers.