A community hospital can be purely a nominal designation or have a more specific meaning. When specific, it refers to a hospital that is accessible to the general public, and provides a general or specific medical care which is usually short-term, in a cost-effective setting, and also focusses on preventing illnesses as on treating them. The following countries have specified definitions for a community hospital:
In Thailand, community hospital is a specific classification of public hospitals with a capacity of 150 beds or fewer. They serve local populations in provincial districts, providing primary care.
An older term "cottage hospital" is now no longer applicable, having falling from use because it inadequately describes the wide range of services being offered by their more modern equivalents. For many years the development of community hospitals was ad hoc, reflecting history rather than any rational planning.
The (non-statutory) phrase is used in England in a similar manner to Scotland. Actual arrangements will be under legislation applicable to the English NHS.
In Northern Ireland the phrase has similar use to Scotland but official publications give the appearance of community hospitals being more recent as a concept rather than a mere description.
"Community Hospital" is not a statutory phrase but it is often used where there is "a local hospital, unit or centre providing an appropriate range and format of accessible health care facilities and resources". Medical care is normally led by GPs, in liaison with consultant, nursing and allied health professional colleagues as necessary. These hospitals are typically small, using either purpose-built new premises or smaller general hospitals which have been retained to provide non-emergency services after general hospital services have been transferred to more centralised facilities; in some cases the services include in-patient care. Community hospitals can assist multidisciplinary working and can be used as an extended primary care resource. Community hospitals provide over 2,900 inpatient beds and over 750,000 outpatient, allied health professional and nurse led appointments. In many rural and remote communities this allows access to more specialised services and inpatient facilities closer to home.
The (non-statutory) phrase is used in Wales in a similar (but possibly less restricted) manner to Scotland. Some are named as community hospitals and many more are also listed as having this function. Some community hospitals have been chosen to act as a hub for services. Actual arrangements will be under legislation applicable to NHS Wales/Gig Cymru.
In the United States, hospitals that are not part of a university, a health system or a chain of private hospitals are often called "community hospitals".
- "Is the Community Hospital a Dying Model, or is it the Future of Healthcare?". Becker's Hospital Review and ASC Communications.
- "Fast Facts on US Hospitals". The American Hospital Association.
- "American Psychological Association (APA): community hospital. (n.d.). Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon. Retrieved July 21, 2013".
- "Community Hospital toolkit" (PDF). Royal College of Nursing. March 2007.
- Heaney, David (2006). "Community hospitals – the place of local service provision in a modernising NHS: an integrative thematic literature". BMC Public Health. 6: 309. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-309.
- Richie LD, Community hospitals in Scotland; promoting progress, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, University of Aberdeen, 1996
- "Building a Health Service Fit for the Future Volume 2: A Guide for the NHS" (PDF). Scottish Government. 23 May 2005. pp. 169–170.
- "Community Hospitals: Strategy Refresh" (PDF). Scottish Government. 20 Apr 2012.
- "Hospitals". NHS Wales. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Hospitals in Communities". NHS Wales. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Community hospitals scramble to survive, stay independent by Arlene Weintraub, USA Today, 9/9/2010
- The Community Hospitals Association - deals with all UK countries