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National trends in emergency readmission rates: a longitudinal analysis of administrative data for England between 2006 and 2016

12 Mar 2018


To assess trends in 30-day emergency readmission rates across England over one decade.


Retrospective study design.


150 non-specialist hospital trusts in England.


23 069 134 patients above 18 years of age who were readmitted following an initial admission (n=62 584 297) between April 2006 and February 2016.

Primary and secondary outcomes

We examined emergency admissions that occurred within 30 days of discharge from hospital (‘emergency readmissions’) as a measure of healthcare quality. Presented are overall readmission rates, and disaggregated by the nature of the indexed admission, including whether it was elective or emergency, and by clinical health condition recorded. All rates were risk-adjusted for patient age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, comorbidities and length of stay.


The average risk-adjusted, 30-day readmission rate increased from 6.56% in 2006/2007 to 6.76% (P<0.01) in 2012/2013, followed by a small decrease to 6.64% (P<0.01) in 2015/2016. Emergency readmissions for patients discharged following elective procedures decreased by 0.13% (P<0.05), whereas those following emergency admission increased by 1.27% (P<0.001). Readmission rates for hip or knee replacements decreased (–1.29%; P<0.001); for acute myocardial infarction (–0.04%; P<0.49), stroke (+0.62%; P<0.05), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (+0.41%; P<0.05) and heart failure (+0.15%; P<0.05) remained stable; and for pneumonia (+2.72%; P<0.001), diabetes (+7.09%; P<0.001), cholecystectomy (+1.86%; P<0.001) and hysterectomy (+2.54%; P<0.001) increased.


Overall, emergency readmission rates in England remained relatively stable across the observation period, with trends of slight increases contained post 2012/2013. However, there were large variations in trends across clinical areas, with some experiencing marked increases in readmission rates. This highlights the need to better understand variations in outcomes across clinical subgroups to allow for targeted interventions that will ensure highest standards of care provided for all patients.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open