During the past several years, budget cuts have forced hospitals in several countries to change the way they deliver care. Gilson (Gilson, L. (1998).
In defence and pursuit of equity. Social Science & Medicine, 47(12), 1891-1896) has argued that, while health reforms are designed to improve efficiency, they have considerable potential to harm equity in the delivery of health care services. It is essential to monitor the impact of health reforms, not only to ensure the balance between equity and efficiency, but also to determine the effect of reforms on such things as access to care and the quality of care delivered. This paper proposes a framework for monitoring these and other indicators that may be affected by health care reform. Application of this framework is illustrated with data from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Despite the closure of almost 24% of the hospital beds in Winnipeg between 1992 and 1996, access to care and quality of care remained generally unchanged. Improvements in efficiency occurred without harming the equitable delivery of health care services. Given our increasing understanding of the weak links between health care and health, improving efficiency within the health care system may actually be a prerequisite for addressing equity issues in health.