Has healthcare rationalisation been rationale? Hospital beds and Covid-19 in Italy

Journal title SALUTE E SOCIETÀ
Author/s Stefano Neri
Publishing Year 2021 Issue 2021/suppl. 2
Language English Pages 19 P. 133-151 File size 554 KB
DOI 10.3280/SES2021-002-S1009
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The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the existence of a hospital bed shortage in Italy, as a result of a longstanding trend. The article analyses this process by an international comparison with other Western European countries, highlighting the intensity of hospital bed reduction in Italy, as a fundamental component of NHS rationalisation. Although it was based on solid grounds, international data suggest that hospital bed reduction was probably excessive, depriving the NHS of organisational slack. Moreover, de-hospitalisation would have been matched with a stronger development of primary and community care. The relative shortage of these services, along with the lack of integrated networks between hospital and non-hospital care, explains many difficulties experienced by hospitals in tackling Covid patients. Beyond investments in health care, these elements call to re-think the organisation of health care provision at local level, questioning the purchaser-provider split.

Keywords: hospital beds; hospital care; Covid-19; epidemiological transition; intensive care; primary care.

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Stefano Neri, Has healthcare rationalisation been rationale? Hospital beds and Covid-19 in Italy in "SALUTE E SOCIETÀ" suppl. 2/2021, pp 133-151, DOI: 10.3280/SES2021-002-S1009