There is still a significant opportunity to improve hospital lengths of stay (LoS) through improvements in internal processes and the development of alternative services. There is often significant variation in LoS, even for patients with similar conditions, and wide variations in the proportion of patients with extended stays, suggesting that improvements could be made to reduce LoS.
Reducing LoS could release capacity in the hospital system as well as reducing cost per patient, however shorter stays can be more service intensive and more costly per day. Too short a length of stay could also cause adverse effects on health outcomes, or reduce the comfort and recovery of the patient.
The Nuffield Trust held an interactive, expert-led seminar which brought together NHS trusts, commissioning groups and experts in the field to share learning and explore ways forward in an open and informal environment.
We discussed approaches that have been successful in reducing LoS and have subsequently improved flow through hospitals without having a detrimental impact on the wider health and social care system or patient outcomes/experience.
The free to attend seminar was chaired by Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust, and used to inform a short report which will set out broad principles underpinning practical steps to reduce length of stay.
A series of case studies outlining successful approaches to reducing length of stay were presented during the event. Take a look at them in more detail below.