A guide to hospital patient numbers and how you can use this information to inform discussions with your consultant.

What are Patient Numbers?

Patient numbers show the number of procedures performed at a hospital in the most recent year that we can report on.

We publish numbers for both NHS and private patients at hospitals that treat private patients. This means that you can get a full view of the hospital’s recent experience in performing a procedure.

What Patient Numbers can and cannot tell you about a hospital?

Patient numbers cannot tell you about safety and quality at a hospital. However, when viewed with other information, such as length of stay, it can help you build a picture of the care provided at that hospital.

The first thing to check is whether the hospital has patient numbers at all. If the hospital isn’t reporting this basic information then it may lead you to question whether they have good processes in place.

Where a hospital has a higher number of a procedure this can be a reassuring sign. It might mean the hospital has more experience in this area.

If a hospital has low patient numbers for a procedures there could be a range of reasons for this. It could be that they are a smaller facility, or the procedure could be less common. It’s always better to use this information in conversations with your hospital to find out why they have a higher or lower number of patients.

Your checklist

  1. Check whether your local hospital is reporting their patient numbers. If they aren’t, what does this say about the hospital’s processes and management?
  2. Understand your hospital’s patient numbers. Higher numbers can be reassuring, but this isn’t always the case.
  3. Ask questions. Patient numbers cannot tell you the full story of the care at a hospital, but can be used alongside the other measures to help inform conversations with your hospital or consultant.

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