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Evidence and consultations

Emergency bed use: what the numbers tells us


The NHS needs to find £20 billion in productivity improvements by 2015 to avoid reducing quality and making significant cuts to services.

The acute sector is already receiving less for treating patients and so is under particular pressure to make those improvements. Could reducing the use of hospital beds for emergency admissions help?

Hospital beds are used for emergency admissions and elective admissions, but bed use for elective admissions has fallen significantly in recent years – although they account for 55 per cent of admissions, they occupy less that 30 per cent of overall bed days.

So reducing bed use for emergency admissions offers the most potential for savings. Our new data briefing explores the figures in more detail and identifies the groups of emergency patients with the greatest scope for reductions in bed use.

Our new data briefing examines:

  • why we need to understand more about bed use for emergency admissions

  • what progress has been made in reducing bed use for emergency admissions

  • how reducing bed use for emergency admissions can lead to improved quality of care and patient experience

  • what the next steps should be.

The briefing aims to provide providers and commissioners with the information they need to help them decide where to focus their attention over the coming year.