ESRI Research Bulletin

The impact of hospital bed supply on patients’ length of stay

ESRI Research Bulletin Articles provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletin Articles are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership. A reference or references to the full publication is included at the start of each Bulletin article.

October 6, 2021
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There have been large reductions in both the average time patients spend in hospital (length of stay) and hospital bed supply across many countries in recent years. However, less is understood about whether either of these trends has affected the other. While patients’ length of stay may fall as hospitals become more efficient, funding cuts and demand pressures may also prompt quicker discharge from hospital in order to free up beds, especially when long waiting lists and busy Emergency Departments exist. During the Great Recession, there were substantial cuts in Ireland’s health expenditures, resulting in staff reductions and bed closures in hospitals. This study examined how changes to bed supply due to recession-induced healthcare expenditure changes may have affected length of stay for emergency inpatients in Ireland between 2010 and 2015.