Outpatient catchment populations of hospitals and clinics in Natal/KwaZulu.
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Catchment populations and cross-boundary flow characteristics of health facilities in Natal and KwaZulu have not previously been determined. As this information is essential to objective health service planning the present study was undertaken. Utilization. cross-boundary flow and catchment populations were determined in 1986 for each hospital and clinic in Natal and KwaZulu. All of the 61 hospitals and 178 clinics in Natal and KwaZulu which are operated by the public sector were included in the study. The ratio of clinics-to-hospitals was 2.9 1. The overall average population per hospital and clinic was 106775 and 36591 respectively. The size of the catchment populations of hospitals varied from 334972 to 272 and of clinics from 253159 to 877. Factors associated with these variations are discussed. Inter-regional cross-boundary flow of patients varied appreciably. The greatest influx of patients was experienced by the Durban sub-region where the teaching hospital is situated while the greatest influx of patients was experienced in the Port Shepstone sub-region. Attendance rates per person per annum. according to racial group, were 0.9, 2.1, 1.7 and 0.8 respectively for Blacks, Coloureds, Indians and Whites. Recommendations in respect of the distribution of health facilities and the routine collection and use of health information relevant to the management process are submitted.
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