Background: There is currently a trend in Britain to concentrate specialist services in a smaller number of hospitals in order to improve outcomes. However, for rapidly life-threatening conditions such as ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (RAAAs), the resulting increased travel time to hospital might adversely affect survival. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between travel time to the nearest hospital and survival from RAAAs in West Sussex.
Methods: Information was collected regarding outcome, postcode, age, sex and diagnoses for all West Sussex residents who had a RAAA between January 1996 and September 1999, including admissions and deaths, wherever they occurred. Deprivation scores were calculated based on postcode. Potential travel time to the nearest hospital was calculated using "Microsoft AutoRoute Express" and its effect on outcome was analysed using multiple logistic regression.
Results: After adjusting for age, sex, Townsend deprivation score and nearest hospital, the odds ratio for survival associated with a 10 min increase in potential travel time to the nearest hospital was 0.97 (0.88 unadjusted) (95 percent confidence interval for adjusted odds ratio: 0.70 to 1.34; p = 0.86).
Conclusion: Several previous studies suggested better survival with longer distances travelled. They are likely to be biased by omission of community deaths. This methodologically better study found no such relationship between RAAA survival and travelling time to hospital in West Sussex, although confidence intervals were wide. This is particularly pertinent while there is a push to centralize vascular and other services in the United Kingdom.