Public Accounts Committee

Reducing emergency admissions inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 8 June 2018. Government response published 9 October 2018.

Report and response published

Scope of the inquiry

According to NHS England, an emergency admission to hospital is “when admission is unpredictable and at short notice because of clinical need”.  From 2007 to 2017, emergency admissions have increased by 24%.

A recent National Audit Report examined the reasons for admissions growth, and how much it costs. It found that in 2016–17, there were 5.8 million emergency admissions, costing a total of £13.7bn.

The increase in cost has been slower than the increase in overall admissions, suggesting that NHS England was become more cost-effective at handling emergency admissions to hospital. However, where the rate of growth in admissions has also slowed, the NAO did not find compelling evidence that NHS England’s programmes were the reason for this. For example, only 32% of local areas reported meeting their Better Care Fund targets to reduce emergency admissions.

The Committee will ask NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department for Health and Social Care how they can ensure that emergency admissions are put on a long-term sustainable trajectory.

Before this, the Committee will ask NHS England about progress with handling clinical correspondence. The Committee examined some aspects of this issue in November, but is concerned to ensure the NHS makes progress in solving the problem fully.


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on reducing emergency admissions.


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