Improving length of stay: what can hospitals do?

A report on length of stay, part of a larger project undertaken by Monitor which aims to find the best ways to improve quality of care across the health system.


Published: 09/09/2015

Download the report [PDF 473.4KB]

Reducing emergency admissions is difficult to achieve and hard to sustain. This report focuses instead on reducing length of hospital stay, which may represent a more effective way to manage the growing demand for beds. 

There are significant opportunities to reduce length of hospital stay through improvements in internal processes and the development of alternative services. Even for patients with similar conditions, there are often differences in length of stay, and wide variations exist among patients who experience extended stays. This suggests that improvements could be made. 

Drawing evidence from the literature together with insights from a number of senior clinicians, managers and case studies, this report explores what approaches to reducing length of stay have been (and could be) effective, providing a set of measures for improving length of stay that are within the control of the hospital itself.

This report complements further work by Monitor looking at how to help local health leaders decide whether to invest in schemes that deliver care closer to patients’ homes. 

Suggested citation

Lewis R and Edwards N (2015) Improving length of stay: what can hospitals do? Research report. Nuffield Trust.