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'Hospital Care In The NHS'

In 1995-6 there were over 13 million attendances at accident and emergency departments, and over 10 million attendances at out-patient clinics. Over 99% of babies are now born in hospital.

The volume of hospital in-patient care is now measured in "finished consultant episodes" (FCEs), the period of care in hospital spent under one consultant. This is not the same as number of patients treated as one patient may receive more than one FCE. In 1995-6 there were just under 10 million FCEs purchased by the NHS.

Although more and more patients are being treated in our hospitals, there are fewer hospital beds. The average number of beds available each day fell by 3.6% between 1993-4 and 1994-5 from 220,000 to 212,000, with annual throughput increasing by 4.8%, from 36 to 38 patients per available bed per year. Hospital stays are shorter too. The average length of stay in 1994 was 6 days for acute patients and 4 for maternity patients (Department of Health, 1996). In 1977 the average stay was 11.8 days, and 6.6 days respectively, while back in 1967 the stays averaged 18.6 days and 8.1 days.

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