In British English, frequently with reference to the unequal provision of healthcare, the noun postcode is used attributively to mean: influenced or determined by a person’s locality or postal address.
The following for example is from ‘Heroic’ NHS staff dragged down by long-term decline in cancer care, say MPs, by Rebecca Thomas, health correspondent, published in The Independent (London, England) of Wednesday 16th March 2022:
The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) […] warned waiting lists were too dependent on a postcode lottery, with some areas having better access to diagnostics and more staff compared to others.
The earliest occurrences that I have found of this attributive use of the noun postcode are as follows, in chronological order:
1-: From The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Saturday 16th January 1993—in the original text, the last two syllables of Mogadishu are in italics:
THINGS AREN’T SO BAD FOR . . . BOUTROS BOUTROS GHALI 1
SO YOUR intervention in Somalia was so successful the place is now about as safe as Moss Side 2; so the residents greeted you with their charming traditional Somalian folk dance of rock-throwing; so you’ve got the most ridiculous name since Slobodan Milosevic. But never mind, you wily old peace negotiator. At least Somalia was warmer then [sic] Serbia. But whenever anyone sneezed you still cracked them up with that “Mogadishu!” gag. At least UN headquarters in New York doesn’t suffer postcode discrimination. No, but getting a cab on Fifth is a pain, right? Hey, no wonder you work in New York—“So good they named it twice”.
1 The Egyptian politician and diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1922-2016) was the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1992 to 1996.
2 This is apparently an ironic reference to the high crime rate in Moss Side, an inner-city area of Manchester, in north-western England.
2-: From Councillor slams cherry-pickers of insurance world, by Jack Mathieson, published in the Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland) of Wednesday 6th April 1994:
A PAISLEY councillor has declared war on insurance companies who, he says, are turning their backs on crime-hit housing schemes.
Paul Mack, who represents Hunterhill, believes thousands of people living in Renfrew District could be left without household insurance because of “post-code discrimination”.
He told the Paisley Daily Express there was increasing evidence that companies were being obstructive to people who wanted cover for homes in high-risk areas.
3-: From Are post-code premiums fair?, about car insurance in London, by James Ruppert, published in The Independent (London, England) of Thursday 19th May 1994:
The pariah postcodes start in the badlands of east London: E1 to E3, then E5 and E17 […].
Exactly how does this postcode discrimination work in practice? Posing as a 33-year-old accountant, with a blemish-free driving record and full no-claims bonus, piloting a blameless little 1993 Nissan Micra, but living within the dreaded E1 area, I picked up the telephone.
4-: From an article by Glenda Cooper about “Britain’s 2,000 worst housing estates”, published in The Independent (London, England) of Wednesday 6th December 1995:
The problems of poverty are exacerbated by stereotyping. Estates suffer from “postcode” discrimination: taxi drivers and delivery vans will not go there, employers lose interest once addresses are quoted and it is almost impossible to get loans from financial institutions.
5-: From Drugs hope for cancer mum Helen, by Sydney Young, published in The Mirror (London, England) of Friday 7th November 1997:
GENEROUS Mirror readers have given a cancer-stricken mum the chance to live long enough to spend Christmas with her daughter.
They were touched by the plight of Helen Bourton, 26, after health chiefs refused to pay £10,000 for life-extending drugs.
Breast cancer victim Helen, who lives in Bristol, would have got the drug free if she lived just 20 miles away in Somerset.
Her plight highlighted the postcode ‘lottery’ faced by cancer patients.
Helen said: “It is disgusting that money and my address come into this.
I want to shame the health authority into change. If it helps others it will have been worthwhile.”
6-: From Drug costs imperil charity sector funds, by Peter Pallot, published in The Daily Telegraph (London, England) of Monday 1st December 1997:
THE NHS was caught out by the emergence last year of expensive Aids drugs. The fact that they let formerly gravely ill patients leave hospital was of little immediate help to health chiefs.
Closing an empty Aids ward would save 40 per cent of its costs (the overheads would remain), but the savings would be more than eaten up by a drug bill of £10,000 per patient a year.
Among the health authorities declining to pay for combination therapy were Tayside, Edinburgh & Lothian, Newcastle, North Wales, Manchester, Bristol-Avon, Bournemouth and Exeter.
Thus Aids joined the so-called Postcode Prescribing Syndrome, in which availability of treatment depends on the sufferer’s address.
7-: From the radio programmes, published in The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Saturday 7th March 1998:
The Drugs Lottery (Radio 1, 9pm). It revealed that police forces and courts in different regions of the country have vastly differing attitudes towards the possession of illegal drugs. In one area the discovery of a small quantity of Ecstasy can bring the carrier a conviction as a Class A dealer. Elsewhere it can require little more than a formal caution.
8-: From Call for end to MS ‘postal lottery’, published in the Press and Journal (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) of Monday 20th April 1998:
A LEADING medical charity is pressing the Government to set national standards of treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis.
Until such standards are in place, people with the common disabling disease of the central nervous system will continue to face a postcode lottery on new drug treatments and services generally, the Multiple Sclerosis Society forecast.
[The phrase postal lottery also occurred in articles on the same topic published by several other British newspapers in May 1998.]
9-: From Alzheimers [sic] patients facing drug ‘lottery’, published in the Evening Express (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) of Monday 1st June 1998:
ALZHEIMER sufferers could be denied the benefits of a new drug because of “postcode prescribing,” it was claimed today.
Charity Alzheimer Scotland Action on Dementia gave the warning as a new drug to help combat the onslaught of the condition was launched today.
Many patients already face a prescribing lottery which depends on the health board area they live in. Those not given the drug on the NHS have to pay around £100 for a month’s supply.