UK Government

Department of Health (National): Atlas maps out Variation in NHS

Press Release   •   Nov 25, 2010 11:21 GMT

A tool to help the NHS identify unwarranted variation in healthcare services across England was published today by the Department of Health.

The NHS Atlas of Variation highlights the amount each Primary Care Trust (PCT) spends on clinical services and links this with the health outcomes patients see.

Taken from 2009 data already in the public domain, the Atlas assesses for the first time what 152 PCTs across England achieve with the money spent on services for their local population, as compared to other PCTs.

Consisting of 34 maps, the Atlas aims to stimulate awareness and is a tool for health professionals to search for and question why differences may be seen in certain areas. The Atlas will help commissioners learn from one another, consider the appropriateness of a service, and investigate when clinical health outcomes are not reflecting the financial investment that has been made.

Variation occurs naturally in the NHS and is encouraged where the NHS tailors services appropriately to meet the clinical needs of its local patients.

Health Minister Lord Howe said:

"I welcome the publication of the NHS Atlas. In order to improve unwarranted variations in services, it is vital to expose existing flaws in the system. While this data predates the Coalition Government, the information is essential to drive improvements across the NHS.

"Our vision is for a patient-centred NHS that achieves health outcomes that are amongst the best in the world. Making this information available to commissioners and patients will help them to identify and address unwarranted variation to better meet the needs of their local populations. Doctors know what treatment is best for their patients and that is why we are getting rid of top-down management and putting them in the driving seat.

"Our historic commitment to protect health spending means that funding for the NHS will increase in real terms every year, so that we can continue to provide the best value from our protected health budget and make every penny count."

Notes to Editors

1. The NHS Atlas of Variation can be found at: http:/



2. For further information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.


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