Emergency readmissions

This indicator looks at patients who are readmitted to hospital in an emergency within 30 days of discharge.


Last updated: 29/06/2022

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Emergency readmissions – where patients are readmitted to hospital in an emergency within 30 days of discharge – are frequently used as a measure of poor patient outcomes. However, many factors can contribute to emergency readmissions. Some emergency readmissions may result from potentially avoidable adverse events, but others may be due to unrelated or unforeseen causes of admission. Some may relate to changes in the way that hospitals run services – for example, through the increased use of frailty and ambulatory care units. And others might be a consequence of our ageing population and the increase in the number of people living with multiple chronic conditions.

Despite the complications in interpreting what this means for the quality of care, publishing data on emergency readmissions is the first step in understanding why they are happening. 

How have emergency readmissions within 30 days of discharge from hospital changed over time? 29/06/2022

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In 2020/21, the first full year of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a sharp decline in emergency readmissions to hospital in England. The number of 30-day emergency readmissions fell to 783,871, 17% less than the previous year. Over the same time period, the total number of emergency admissions fell by 23%, from 6,556,932 to 5,060,168.

While both emergency admissions and readmissions decreased in 2020/21, the proportion of emergency readmissions rose to 15.5%.

About this data

The data used in this indicator is currently classified as experimental statistics. These are official government statistics that are published to involve stakeholders in their development and build in quality. 

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic began to have an impact on Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data late in the 2019/20 financial year, which continued into the 2020/21 financial year. This means we are seeing different patterns in the submitted data – for example, fewer patients being admitted to hospital – and so statistics which contain data from this period should be interpreted with care.

This indicator measures the percentage of emergency admissions to any hospital in England occurring within 30 days of the most recent discharge from hospital. Admissions for cancer and obstetrics are excluded as they may be part of the patient’s care plan. 

For more information, please see NHS Digital’s Indicator specification.