Number of public patients continues to rise

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 01:00

The proportion of public patients discharged from Irish hospitals rose last year, continuing the trend which has seen an average annual increase in public patients of 4.4 per cent since 2008.

Public patients made up 83.2 per cent of the total discharges in Irish hospitals last year, an increase of 5.5 per cent since 2011, according to research published by the Economic & Social Research Institute this morning.

The Activity in Acute Hospitals in Ireland, 2012 report by the ESRI’s Health Research and Information Division presents information on discharges from 57 Irish acute public hospitals participating in the Hospital InPatient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme.

Private patients accounted for 16.8 per cent of total discharges in 2012 and 19.9 per cent of inpatient bed days. The total number of private discharges has been on a downward trend since 2008, falling by an annual average of 2.8 per cent.

Medical card holders accounted for over half, or 53.7 per cent, of total discharges from Irish hospitals in 2012, an average annual increase of 4.8 per cent since 2008. The percentage of total discharges relating to medical card holders has risen from 50.1 per cent in 2008 and 53.3 per cent in 2011.

There were over 1.54 million discharges reported by participating hospitals in 2012 compared with 1.47 million discharges a year earlier, a 4.8 per cent increase. The average annual rise in discharges between 2008 and 2012 was 3 per cent.

Day patients accounted for just under 60 per cent of discharges in 2012 compared with 56.3 per cent of total discharges in 2008 with an average annual increase of 4.4 per cent since 2008.

In 2012 inpatients accounted for just over 40 per cent of total discharges of which almost a third were emergency inpatients, 17 per cent were elective inpatients and 20 per cent were maternity inpatients. Inpatients used just under 3.48 million bed days in 2012, an increase of 0.6 per cent from 2011. There has been an average annual decrease in inpatient bed days between 2008 and 2012 of 1.5 per cent.

One-third of the total recorded discharges were among patients aged 65 years and older, an average annual rise of 5 per cent since 2008. This age group also accounted for the largest proportion of total bed days, some 47.3 per cent, a rise of 1.9 per cent on the 2011 figure.

The average length of stay for acute inpatients stood at 4.1 days in 2012, a decrease of 4.7 per cent on the equivalent figure in 2011 and an average annual decrease of 2.8 per cent since 2008. The average length of stay varied from 3.9 days in the HSE South to 4.2 days in the HSE Dublin North East.

Voluntary hospitals recorded an acute inpatient average length of stay of 5.2 days for public discharges and 5.6 days for private discharges. For regional hospitals, the acute inpatient average length of stay was four days for public discharges and 4.1 days for private discharges.

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