Retrospective economic analysis of the transfer of services from hospitals to the community: an application to an enhanced eye care service

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Thomas Mason
  • Evgenia Konstantakopoulou
  • David F Edgar
  • John G Lawrenson


OBJECTIVE: This research aims to evaluate the wider health system effects of the introduction of an intermediate-tier service for eye care.

SETTING: This research employs the Minor Eye Conditions Scheme (MECS), an intermediate-tier eye care service introduced in two London boroughs, Lewisham and Lambeth, in April 2013.

DESIGN: Retrospective difference-in-differences analysis comparing changes over time in service use and costs between April 2011 and October 2014 in two commissioning areas that introduced an intermediate-tier service programme with changes in a neighbouring area that did not introduce the programme.

DATA SOURCES: MECS audit data; unit costs for MECS visits; volumes of first and follow-up outpatient attendances to hospital ophthalmology; the national schedule of reference costs.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Volumes and costs of patients treated.

RESULTS: In one intervention area (Lewisham), general practitioner (GP) referrals to hospital ophthalmology decreased differentially by 75.2% (95% CI -0.918% to -0.587%) for first attendances, and by 40.3% for follow-ups (95% CI -0.489% to -0.316%). GP referrals to hospital ophthalmology decreased differentially by 30.2% (95% CI -0.468% to -0.137%) for first attendances in the other intervention area (Lambeth). Costs increased by 3.1% in the comparison area between 2011/2012 and 2013/2014. Over the same period, costs increased by less (2.5%) in one intervention area and fell by 13.8% in the other intervention area.

CONCLUSIONS: Intermediate-tier services based in the community could potentially reduce volumes of patients referred to hospitals by GPs and provide replacement services at lower unit costs.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere014089
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017