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Accident and Emergency Departments: Discharges

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of emergency patients were discharged within a day in each of the last five years. (228987)

The available information is provided in the following table.

Number of discharges on same date as admission

Proportion of total discharges (Percentage)

Number of discharges on the next date from admission

Proportion of total discharges (Percentage)



























Quality of care:

Data derived from Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) cannot be used in isolation to evaluate the quality of care provided by NHS trusts. There are many factors that can affect the outcome of treatment and it is beyond the scope of HES to adequately record and present all of these.

Ungrossed data:

Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed).


A discharge episode is the last episode during a hospital stay (a spell), where the patient is discharged from the hospital (this includes transfer to another hospital).

Data Quality:

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England. Data are also received from a number of independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.

Assessing growth through time:

HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. During the years that these records have been collected by the NHS, there have been ongoing improvements in quality and coverage. These improvements in information submitted by the NHS have been particularly marked in the earlier years and need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. Some of the increase in figures for later years (particularly 2006-07 onwards) may be due to the improvement in the coverage of independent sector activity. Changes in NHS practice also need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. For example, a number of procedures may now be undertaken in out-patient settings and may no longer be accounted for in the HES data. This may account for any reductions in activity over time.

Length of stay (duration of episode)/Length of stay (duration of spell):

Length of stay (LOS) is calculated as the difference in days between the admission date and the discharge date, where both are given. LOS is based on hospital spells and only applies to ordinary admissions, i.e. day cases are excluded (unless otherwise stated). Information relating to LOS figures, including discharge method/destination, diagnoses and any operative procedures, is based only on the final episode of the spell.

These data are restricted to discharge episodes which had the following types of admission method:

21 = Emergency: via accident and emergency (A&E) services, including the casualty department of the provider

22 = Emergency: via general practitioner (GP)

23 = Emergency: via Bed Bureau, including the Central Bureau

24 = Emergency: via consultant out-patient clinic

28 = Emergency: other means, including patients who arrive via the A&E department of another health care provider.


Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), the NHS Information Centre for health and social care.