We apply cross-sectional and panel data methods to a database of 5 million patients in 8000 English general practices to examine whether better primary care management of 10 chronic diseases is associated with reduced hospital costs. We find that only primary care performance in stroke care is associated with lower hospital costs. Our results suggest that the 10% improvement in the general practice quality of stroke care between 2004/5 and 2007/8 reduced 2007/8 hospital expenditure by about £130 million in England. The cost savings are due mainly to reductions in emergency admissions and outpatient visits, rather than to lower costs for patients treated in hospital or to reductions in elective admissions.
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