Activity in Acute Public Hospitals in Ireland, 2012 Annual Report

December 10, 2013

Health Research and Information Division, The Economic & Social Research Institute

This report presents information on discharges from 57 Irish acute public hospitals participating in the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme in 2012. The HIPE system is supported and managed by the ESRI on behalf of the HSE. These acute public hospitals collect and return administrative, demographic and clinical information for each discharge to the ESRI on a monthly basis. In addition to collecting data, all hospitals participating in HIPE have available to them a reporting system that enables immediate and continuous access to the current data for management and other purposes. HIPE data may also be used to inform policy decisions and developments in areas such as hospital budgeting, service planning, workload measurement, etc. In this Report, information is presented on the number of day patient and in-patient discharges, together with their demographic characteristics and geographical distribution. The number and type of diagnoses and procedures reported for discharges, as well as the case mix treated, are also profiled. The demographic and morbidity analyses for Maternity discharges are presented separately to enable a more comprehensive overview of trends in this area. To provide context, 2012 data are referenced by 2011 and the period back to 2008.

Main findings of the 2012 Report Overview of Total Discharges

  • Total Discharges: Over 1.54 million discharges were reported by the participating hospitals compared to 1.47 million discharges in 2011 – an increase of 4.8%. The average annual increase in discharges between 2008 and 2012 was 3%.
  • Day Patients: Day patients accounted for 59.4% of total discharges in 2012, an increase of 4.2% since 2011. This compares with 56.3% of total discharges in 2008; the average annual increase over the period 2008-2012 was 4.4%.
  • In-Patient Composition: In 2012 in-patients accounted for 40.6% of total discharges of which 62.6% were emergency in-patients, 17.1% were elective in-patients and 20.3% were Maternity in-patients. In-patients used just under 3.48 million bed days in 2012, an increase of 0.6% from 2011. There has been an average annual decrease in in-patient bed days between 2008 and 2012 of 1.5%.
  •  Age Profile: At 33.2%, almost one-third of total discharges were aged 65 years and older, an increase of 6.4% between 2011 and 2012 and an average annual increase of 5% between 2008 and 2012. This age group used the largest proportion of total bed days (47.3%), which was an increase of 1.9% on the 2011 figure.
  • Medical Cards: Medical card holders accounted for 53.7% of total discharges, which was an increase of 5.6% since 2011 and an average annual increase of 4.8% since 2008. The percentage of total discharges relating to medical card holders has increased from 50.1% in 2008 and 53.3% in 2011.
  • Public Patients: Public patients accounted for 83.2% of total discharges (80.1% of total in-patient bed days). This is an increase of 5.5% since 2011 and an average annual increase of 4.4% since 2008. The proportion of discharges relating to public patients has been rising in recent years, up from 78.8% in 2008 and 82.6% in 2011.
  • Private Patients: Private patients accounted for 16.8% of total discharges in 2012 and 19.9% of in-patient bed days. While the number of private discharges increased by 1.2% between 2011 and 2012, the total number of private discharges has trended downwards since 2008 and the average annual decrease was 2.8%.

Length of Stay

  • Average Length of Stay: Nationally, acute in-patient average length of stay was 4.1 days in 2012, a decrease of 4.7% since 2011 and an average annual decrease of 2.8% since 2008. Acute in-patient average length of stay ranged from 3.9 days in the HSE South area to 4.2 days in the HSE Dublin North East area.
  • Voluntary Hospitals: Voluntary hospitals recorded an acute in-patient average length of stay of 5.2 days for public discharges and 5.6 days for private discharges. For regional hospitals the acute in-patient average length of stay was 4.0 days for public discharges and 4.1 days for private discharges.
  • Long-Stay Patients: Extended stay in-patients, who stayed for more than 30 days, accounted for 2.5% of in-patient discharges and 28.5% of in-patient bed days. While the number of extended stay in-patients rose very slightly from 2011 to 2012, there was an average annual decline of 1.4% since 2008.

Notes for Editors:

  • Activity in Acute Public Hospitals in Ireland, 2012 Annual Report, by the Health Research and Information Division of the Economic & Social Research Institute, will be published online on the ESRI website at 00:01 a.m. Tuesday 10 December.
  • The Hospital In-Patient Enquiry scheme is a health information system designed to collect clinical and administrative data on discharges from, and deaths in, acute hospitals in Ireland (see The ESRI has responsibility for managing, and reporting on, the HIPE scheme on behalf of the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.
  • The HIPE scheme does not collect information on accident and emergency or outpatient visits.
  • The number of women giving birth does not equate to the number of babies born. For national statistics on perinatal events in Ireland see the National Perinatal Reporting System (
  • The current and previous HIPE Annual Reports are available at: