Is the National Health Service at the edge of chaos?

Papadopoulos, Marios C.; Hadjitheodossiou, Michalis; Chrysostomou, Costas; Hardwidge, Carl; Bell, B. Anthony
December 2001
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine;Dec2001, Vol. 94 Issue 12, p613
Academic Journal
We used chaos and complexity theory to analyze waiting-list data (1998-2001) pertaining to over 20 000 National Health Service (NHS) patients from general surgical, orthopaedic and neurosurgical units across England. Plots of frequency versus quarter-to-quarter change in waiting times reveled a power relation which seems independent of surgical specialty and hospital location. One interpretation of these findings is that, for the period in question, the NHS was a system at the edge of chaos. This hypothesis might explain why waiting times have resisted attempts at shortening.


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