Wed, 07 Dec 2022

The Department of Health today published the Northern Ireland Acute Episode-Based Activity Statistics for 2021/22.

The purpose of this publication is to complement data contained in the Northern Ireland Hospital Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Activity (2021/22) publication, issued on 4 August 2022 and available on the DoH website

While the Northern Ireland Hospital Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Activity (2021/22) publication is based on admissions to hospitals, this publication is based on finished consultant episodes (FCEs).  A patient may have more than one FCE during an admission to hospital.

The Acute Episode-Based Activity Statistics show detailed analysis at specialty, diagnosis, procedure and healthcare resource group levels within the Acute Programme of Care   (PoC 1).  Episode-based data in Northern Ireland are comparable with the equivalent Hospital Episode Statistics published annually in England.

Key facts and figures for Northern Ireland Acute Episode-Based Activity Statistics for 2021/22

Number of finished consultant episodes within the acute programme of care

  • In 2021/22, there were 586,844 such episodes, an increase of 18.2 % on the previous year (496,628; (2020/21)) and a decrease on the 659,351 recorded in 2017/18.

  • nearly a quarter (24.7%) of the 586,844 FCEs during 2021/22 were admitted for day case treatment (144,956). Since five years ago, the number of day case episodes has decreased 23.4 % from 189,189 in 2017/18 and there was an increase of 41.0% on the previous year's figure of 102,773 in 2020/21. Over the same period, the number of inpatient episodes decreased also, but by much less, with a 6.6% decrease from 350,531 in 2017/18 to 327,313 in 2021/22. This also represented an increase of 10.7% on the 2020/21 figure (295,764).

  • the average length of an inpatient episode was 3.4 days in 2021/22, an increase from the 3.2 days reported in 2020/21 and 3.3 days in 2017/18.

High Volume Activity

  • in 2021/22, the most frequently recorded primary diagnosis was 'chronic kidney disease' (81,056 FCEs), representing 13.8% of all FCEs with 'compensation for renal failure' being the most frequently recorded main procedure (81,999).

  • in 2019/20, compensation for renal failure was the most frequently recorded main procedure (85,012).

Topical Information Areas

  • in 2021/22 there were 78,868 FCEs where a diagnosis of any cancer or neoplasm was recorded as the primary diagnosis - an increase of 24.1% when compared to 2020/21 (63,560) and an increase of 1.3% when compared to 2017/18 (77,832).

  • from 2017/18 there has been a decrease of 39.4% in the number of FCEs where the primary diagnosis recorded was described as 'influenza, pneumonia, etc.', with 49,026 FCEs recorded then compared to 29,694 in 2021/22. This is an increase of 26.0% on the 23,563  FCEs recorded in 2020/21.

  • FCEs where a diagnosis of ischaemic heart disease was recorded in a primary position in 2021/22 (12,459) have decreased by 12.0% from 14,158 recorded in 2017/18 and by 10.7% on the 11,254 recorded in 2020/21.

  • there has been a fall in the number of FCEs where a hip procedure was the primary intervention, from 2,961 in 2017/18 to 2,030 in 2021/22, representing a decrease of 31.4%, but there has been an increase from 1,538 in 2020/21 (32.0%).

  • the number of cataract procedure FCEs has increased since last year to 5,334, representing a 91.6% increase (2,784; (2020/21)) and a decrease of 27.7% from 7,377 procedures in 2017/18.

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