An inpatient guide to length of stay for hospitals and how you can use this to inform discussions with your healthcare provider and consultant.

What is length of stay?
What can length of stay tell you about a hospital?
Your checklist

What is length of stay?

Length of stay shows how long you might expect to stay at a hospital for a treatment based on the experience of previous patients.

We show the range of how long previous patients have stayed in the hospital for each procedure, from day case to 10+ days, as well as the average.

We only show length of stay based on privately funded patients. NHS funded patients may have different complexities and factors in their treatment compared to typical private patients. Basing this on the experience of private patients may give you a better indication if considering treatment on a private basis. 

What can length of stay tell you about a hospital?

The first thing to check is whether your hospital has a length of stay score at all. If they aren't reporting this basic information, it may lead you to question whether they have good processes in place.

Where hospitals have provided this information, this cannot tell you about safety and quality on its own. Length of stay does not describe the medical competence of the hospital nor of patient satisfaction.

While in the NHS a shorter length of stay is often seen as a sign of a quicker recovery, in private healthcare there are multiple reasons why people might opt for a long stay. For example, often people will travel long distances to see a specific surgeon or for a specific patient experience. In these cases it may not be practical for the patient to go home quickly, particularly if this would entail international travel.

However, length of stay can give you an indication of how long you are likely to stay in hospital following a procedure and whether the hospital is in line with other hospitals.

This may be an important factor in your decision making around your care. Some people want the reassurance of recovering in hospital, while others are keen to go home as soon as possible. If you are keen on a period of hospital care, be aware that this may have a financial impact, so best to check with your insurer or the hospital on what this impact might be.

Length of stay cannot tell you the full story of patient care at each hospital. This information is best used during discussions with your consultant or hospital, to understand how long you might be expected to stay and why, considering your individual case.

Your checklist

  1. Check whether your local hospital is reporting their length of stay. If they aren’t, what does this say about the hospital’s dedication to patient choice, and what could this mean for your care?
  2. Understand your hospital’s length of stay. If your chosen hospital has a longer or shorter than average length of stay, you should ask why this is the case.
  3. Ask questions. Use our information and the published numbers to ask your GP or consultant about your likely length of stay and what complications could be involved. You need to be confident that the hospital and consultant are the right for you.

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