Key points

  • One in three patients admitted to hospital in England as an emergency in 2015/16 had five or more health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dehydration, hip fracture or dementia. This is up from one in ten in 2006/07. 
  • The number of patients admitted urgently to hospital has increased by 42% over the past decade – that’s an average of 3.2% per annum. This far outstrips the total number of people who attend A&E departments, which is up by only 13%.
  • Patients arriving at A&E are sicker than ever before, and more likely to need admission. This has grown for patients with multiple health conditions, as well as for older patients aged 85 or over, up by 58.9%.
  • Hospitals are treating patients more quickly, with overnight stays for those with five or more conditions lasting 10.8 nights in 2015/16 compared with 15.8 days a decade previously. The number of these patients admitted to hospital but discharged on the same day have increased by 373% over the same period.

New research led by the Health Foundation looks at trends in emergency admissions over the past decade and reviews some of the interventions aimed at reducing them. 

Read the full list of key points

The briefing also identifies opportunities to reduce emergency admissions including:

  • Approximately 14% of all emergency admissions are for ‘ambulatory sensitive’ conditions – conditions such as asthma where timely and effective primary care could reduce the likelihood of admission.
  • If older patients saw their regular GP two more times out of every ten consultations, this would be associated with a 6% decrease in admissions for ambulatory sensitive conditions.
  • Around 26.5% of all unplanned A&E attendances in England (5.77 million per year) were preceded by the patient being unable to obtain a GP appointment that was convenient to them, however few of these A&E attendances will have resulted in an admission.

Further reading

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Measuring patient complexity in hospital admissions

22 May 2018
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How best to measure the complexity of patients’ health needs? Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of...

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August 2018
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This briefing explores the link between how well patients feel able to manage their long-term...

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