Hospital admissions reach record levels in England

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 10 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6052
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Hospital admissions in England rose to record levels last year and are now almost 30% higher than a decade ago, figures show.

Statistics published in a new report by NHS Digital showed 16.2 million admissions during 2015-16—up from 12.7 million in 2005-06.1 Over the same 10 year period the population as a whole has grown much more slowly, rising by 8% from 50.6 million to 54.8 million.

The report identified the country’s ageing population as a primary reason for the increase in admissions. “Baby boomers”—patients aged 65-69—made up the single largest group admitted in 2015-16, with some 1.3 million admissions.

The data also showed that the average age of hospital patients has been rising steadily for many years. From 2005-06 to 2015-16 the number of admissions among patients aged under 45 increased by less than 9%, from 5.8 million to 6.3 million. In contrast, the number of admissions among over 45s increased by nearly 44%, from 6.9 million to 9.9 million.

The total number of admissions that included procedures and interventions increased by 56% between 2005-06 and 2015-16, from 6.8 million to 10.6 million. But the average length of admission reduced from 6.6 days in 2005-06 to 4.9 days in 2015-16.

Procedures and interventions involving the lower digestive tract including the colon have nearly doubled in 10 years, increasing by 94% from 521 000 to 1 million.

The same period saw an 81% rise in procedures and interventions involving the upper digestive tract including the stomach (up from 431 000 to 782 000), as well as a 74% increase in those involving the respiratory tract (up from 181 000 to 315 000).

Jane Winter, responsible statistician at NHS Digital, 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 10 years have risen at a faster rate than the population increase.

“For example, the number of 65-69 year olds has increased by 34% in the past 10 years, with corresponding hospital admissions growing by 57%.”


View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial