Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AbstractWe study whether hospitals that exhibit systematically higher bed occupancy rates are associated with lower quality in England over 2010/11–2017/18. We develop an economic conceptual framework to guide our empirical analysis and run regressions to inform possible policy interventions. First, we run a pooled OLS regression to test if high bed occupancy is associated with, and therefore acts as a signal of, lower quality, which could trigger additional regulation. Second, we test whether this association is explained by exogenous demand–supply factors such as potential demand, and unavoidable costs. Third, we include determinants of bed occupancy (beds, length of stay, and volume) that might be associated with quality directly, rather than indirectly through bed occupancy. Last, we use a within-between random-effects specification to decompose these associations into those due to variations in characteristics between hospitals and variations within hospitals. We find that bed occupancy rates are positively associated with overall and surgical mortality, negatively associated with patient-reported health gains, but not associated with other indicators. These results are robust to controlling for demand–supply shifters, beds, and volume. The associations reduce by 12%-25% after controlling for length of stay in most cases and are explained by variations in bed occupancy between hospitals.

Original publication




Journal article


The European Journal of Health Economics


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date