Has NHS reorganisation saved lives? A CuSum study using 65 years of data

J R Soc Med. 2016 Jan;109(1):18-26. doi: 10.1177/0141076815608853. Epub 2015 Oct 2.


Objectives: To determine if NHS reforms affect population mortality.

Design: Retrospective study using routinely published data.

Setting & participants: Resident population of England and Wales 1948 to 2012 MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: All cause age sex directly standardised mortality England and Wales 1948 to 2012.

Methods: Using the CuSum technique and Change-Point Analysis to identify sustained changes in the improving age-standardised mortality rates for the period 1948-2012, and comparing the time of these changes with periods of NHS reform. Where observed changes did not fit with NHS reform, changes external to the NHS were sought as a possible explanation of changes observed.

Results: CuSum plotting and CPA showed no significant changes in female mortality trend between 1948 and 2012. However, this analysis identified a sustained improvement in the male mortality trend, occurring in the mid-1970s. A further change in the rate of male mortality decline was found around the Millennium.

Conclusion: The 1974 NHS reorganisation, changing service arrangements predominantly for women and children, is considered an unlikely explanation of the improved rate of male mortality decline. Thus, centrally led NHS reorganisation has never had any detectable effect on either male or female mortality and must be considered ineffective for this purpose. But some evidence supporting the view that increased funding improves outcomes is found.

Keywords: health care reform; mortality; statistical process control; statistics.

MeSH terms

  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Wales