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Hospital admissions hit record high as population ages

9 November 2016: Hospital admissions in England rose to record levels last year, with 16.2 million admissions during 2015-16 - up from 12.7 million ten years ago.

Regional level data are available within this report

Patients aged 65 to 69 - so called "baby boomers" - made up the single largest group of patientsa, with some 1.3 million admissions in 2015-16, according to figures released today by NHS Digital.

The report "Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity 2015-16" shows that the average age of hospital patients has been rising steadily for many yearsb. Between 2005-06and 2015-16,the number of admissions for patients aged 44 and under increased by less than 9 per cent (from 5.8 million to 6.3 million), whilst for patients aged 45 and over it increased by nearly 44 per cent (from 6.9 million to 9.9 million).

Over the same time period, the population has also grown, although at a much lower rate than hospital admissions - around 8 per cent (50.6 million to 54.8 million) - compared with an overall growth of nearly 30 per cent for hospital admissions (12.7 million to 16.2 million).

While the total number of admissions with procedures and interventions has increased by 56 per cent since 2005-06 (6.8 million to 10.6 million), the average length of a hospital admission c reduced from 6.6 days in 2005-06 to 4.9 days in 2015-16.

Admissions with procedures and interventions involving the lower digestive tract (including the colon) have nearly doubled (an increase of 94 per cent from 521,000 to 1.0 million), whilst those involving the upper digestive tract (including the stomach) and respiratory tract have also increased, with a rise of 81 per cent (431,000 to 782,000) and 74 per cent (181,000 to 315,000) respectively over the same time periodd.

Responsible statistician at NHS Digital, Jane Winter, said:

"The number of admissions to hospital has been rising steadily for over a decade now. Admissions in 2015-16 were the highest on record, and over the last ten years have risen at a faster rate than the population increase. For example, the number of 65 to 69 year olds has increased by 34 per cente in the past ten years, with corresponding hospital admissions growing by 57 per cent."

View the full report at:

aPatients aged 65 to 69 made up the single largest group of hospital admissions, when broken down into five year age bands, with the exception of age 0 to 4, which includes babies born in hospital.

bThe mean average age of an admitted patient in England was 49 in 2005-6 and 53 in 2015-16 (source: NHS Digital). The median age of the UK population was 39 in mid-2005 and 40 in mid- 2015 (source: ONS).

c The average (mean) length of stay is calculated from ordinary admissions only. These include all admissions except planned day cases.

dProcedures and interventions with the largest increase as measured via OPCS4.7. Note that some of these may be diagnostic procedures.

eThe number of 65 to 69 year olds in England was 2,248,511 in 2005-6 and 3,017,135 on 2015-16 (source: Office for National Statistics**. Hospital admissions increased from 852,601 to 1,336,664 over the same time period (source: NHS Digital)


Notes to editors

1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2015/16 financial year, NHS Digital published 294 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. NHS Digital is the new trading name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit at

2. This report was formerly called Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care - England, 2015-16

3. Hospital Episode Statistics are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts in England and approximately 200 independent providers for activity commissioned by the NHS. The figures provided in this report refer to recorded admissions, and are reliant on a complete and accurate recording of the cause of the hospital admission and the demographic details of the patient.

4. 'Admissions' refers to the total number of finished admission episodes including emergency admissions. These figures should not be referred to as a count of people or patients, as the same person could have been admitted on multiple occasions.

5. Regional and provider level data available in this report.

6. Within this release, millions are rounded to the nearest 100,000, and figures of 100,000 to 999,999 are rounded to the nearest 10,000. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number and days to one decimal place.

7. For media enquiries please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.

Supplementary information

Click here to view related tables on:

Finished Admission Episodes (FAEs) with a main procedure performed on the a) respiratory tract, b) upper digestive tract and c) lower digestive tract and the total FAEs with a valid procedure, 2005-06 and 2015-16

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