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How fair is our service? Evaluating access to specialist paediatric care


Objective To assess equity of access to paediatric outpatient clinics in our hospital.

Design/setting Retrospective analysis of consecutive accepted referrals to allergy, asthma, epilepsy, general paediatrics, rapid access, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes and endocrine outpatient clinics.

Patients 32 369 new patients, April 2007 to June 2018.

Results Among local patients (58.1%) 0.2%–2.5% of patients referred to each clinic lived in the least deprived quintile, and 43.5%–48.4% in the most deprived quintile—similar to inpatient admissions and the local population. Tertiary clinics showed a much higher proportion of patients from the least deprived quintiles (15.9%–26.2%).

Conclusions Local outpatient referrals broadly reflected the socioeconomic distribution, although not necessarily the distribution of need, of our local population. A relatively high proportion of patients in tertiary clinics were from more affluent postcodes, highlighting the need for referral inequalities to be evaluated across networks or regions.

  • audit
  • health services research
  • public health
  • inequalities
  • general paediatrics

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