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(Re)surveying the uses of Geographical Information Systems in Health Authorities 1991–2001

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Abstract:

This paper provides a comparative analysis of two separate national surveys of the uptake and use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) by Health Authorities (HAs) in England and Wales. The surveys were undertaken at two different time points (1991 and 2001), and the intervening period has been characterized by major (and continuing) health sector restructuring. The substantial number of HA mergers between 1991 and 2001 provide a methodological challenge in attempting to make comparisons. A pragmatic approach is adopted and the presentation of results has to be restricted solely to English and Welsh HA data. Our findings show that there has been a considerable increase in the use of GIS since the early 1990s, and there is some evidence of more sophisticated uses for a wider range of policy-related and application tasks. However, we conclude that there is still considerable scope for the wider uptake and use of GIS within the NHS. In addition, our findings provide a baseline with which to monitor the impacts of future organizational restructuring on the uses of GIS within the NHS. We suggest that this is important given the replacement of 95 English HAs with 28 new Strategic HAs (StHAs) from April 2002, and the repercussions of the anticipated shift in GIS responsibility to Primary Care Trusts.

Keywords: England and Wales; GIS; Health Authorities; NHS; organizational restructuring; temporal change

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-4762.00112

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, School of the Environment, University of Brighton, Brighton BN2 4GJ, Email: D.Smith@Brighton.ac.uk 2: GIS Research Centre, School of Computing, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, Wales CF37 1DL, Email: ghiggs@glam.ac.uk 3: School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, Email: m.gould@geog.leeds.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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