Hospitals are criticised for ‘avoidable' admissions

  • The government spending watchdog has said that there are too many emergency admissions to hospitals in England.

    According to the National Audit Office, there were 5.3m emergency admissions in the last financial year which is a 47% rise in 15 years, and many of these patients stayed in hospital for longer than necessary. It says that it is "critical" for the NHS to do better in dealing with issues to cope with rising winter pressures.

    NHS England has said that "big decisions" are needed to develop alternatives, reports the BBC.

    The NAO report looked into how well emergency admissions to hospital are managed. These are admissions that have not been planned and happen at short notice. The report highlights that whilst admissions per head of population are lower in England than other regions in the UK, the rate of increase over the past ten years has been much higher.

    A growing proportion of patients attending A&E departments and being admitted are a big factor, as figures show it is now more than one in four, whereas a decade ago it was less than one in five. The NAO estimates that at least a fifth of patients admitted as emergencies could be managed outside hospital.

    The NAO believes that going to A&E and then becoming admitted has become a "default route" for urgent and emergency care. It also raises concern that there are growing delays in discharging patients once they are fit to leave hospital.  It says that these problems are a "major concern" due to the cost to the NHS and the disruption it brings to hospitals and patients.

    The director for acute episodes of care for NHS England, Prof Keith Willett, said the increase in emergency admissions was a growing concern.

    "As the report recommends, we must collectively take substantial steps to ensure patients receive the best possible care, preferably out of hospital but also when necessary in hospital," he said. "To achieve that it is clear the way we provide health and social care must change so our hospitals, GP and community services have the space to do that."

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