Publication of the Annual NI Acute Episode-Based Activity Statistics for 2015/16

Date published: 20 October 2016

The purpose of this publication is to complement data contained in the Hospital Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Activity (2015/16) publication, issued on 4th August 2016.

Acute episode based activity statistics

This is available on the DoH website.

While the Hospital Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Activity (2015/16) 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.

Key Facts

Number of finished consultant episodes within the acute programme of care

  • in 2015/16, there were 641,328 finished consultant episodes (FCEs) in hospitals within the Acute Programme of Care, an increase of 2.5% on the previous year (625,687 in 2014/15) and an increase of 9.1% on the 588,042 recorded in 2011/12
  • of the 641,328 FCEs during 2015/16, almost a third, 189,079 (29.5%) were admitted for day case treatment.  Over the last five years, the number of inpatient episodes increased by 20.6% from 282,950 in 2011/12 to 341,332 in 2015/16
  • the average length of an inpatient episode was 3.4 days in 2015/16; a decrease of 0.9 days from 4.3 days in 2011/12

High Volume Activity

  • in 2015/16, the most frequently recorded primary diagnosis was chronic kidney disease, with a total of 88,965 FCEs (13.9%)
  • in 2015/16, compensation for renal failure was the most frequently recorded main procedure, with 88,207 (21.0%) FCEs

Topical Information Areas

  • in 2015/16 there were 73,556 FCEs where a diagnosis of cancer or other neoplasm was recorded as the primary diagnosis – an increase of 17.3% when compared to 2011/12 (62,715) and 4.5% when compared to 2014/15 (70,396)
  • over the same period there has been a rise of 44.9% (increasing from 31,561 in 2011/12   to 45,726 in 2015/26) in the number of FCEs where the primary diagnosis recorded was influenza, pneumonia, etc
  • FCEs, where a diagnosis of ischaemic heart disease was recorded in a primary position, have decreased by 6.0% from 14,117 recorded in 2011/12 to 14,964 recorded in 2015/16
  • there has been a rise in the number of FCEs where a hip procedure was the primary intervention, from 2,971 in 2011/12 to 3,088 in 2015/16 – an increase of 3.9%
  • the number of FCEs where a cataract procedure was carried out has increased over the 5 year period from 7,949 in 2011/12 to 8,056 in 2015/16, representing an increase of 1.3%

Notes to editors: 

1. All published hospital inpatient activity data is available online

2. About the data

  • a consultant episode is the time a patient spends in the continuous care of one consultant.  The episode can be finished because of discharge, death or transfer, either to another consultant or another hospital.  As a result, a patient may have more than one FCE during an admission to hospital (if transferred to the care of another consultant)
  • episode based data is used to perform detailed analysis at diagnostic and procedure level, which may vary between each of the episodes that form an admission.  Episode data is used to answer Assembly /Parliamentary questions, ad-hoc queries and for financial analysis.  In addition, episode based data in the north of Ireland can be compared with the equivalent Hospital Episode Statistics data published annually in England
  • inpatient and day case episode data for all specialties within the acute services programme of care is collated monthly from each hospital’s Patient Administration System and is recorded in the Hospital Inpatient System (HIS).  Each record within the HIS relates to an individual consultant episode and records details such as the date the patient was admitted the diagnosis of the patient and any interventions/procedures the patient underwent
  • the total number of bed days has been calculated using the episode duration field within the Hospital Inpatient System; this is in contrast to the Hospital Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Activity (2015/16) publication which uses specialty level bed occupancy data from the KH03a aggregate return
  • all data published from 2008/09 excludes Independent Sector activity carried out within HSC Hospitals. HoPrior to this year, Independent Sector activity was included

3. Definitions

Admission: Total admissions has been taken to be the sum of all day cases, inpatients (elective and non elective) and regular attenders.  Deaths and discharges have been used as an approximation for admissions.

Day Case: A patient admitted electively during the course of a day with the intention of receiving care, who does not require the use of a hospital bed overnight and who returns home as scheduled.  If this original intention is not fulfilled and the patient stays overnight, such a patient should be counted as an inpatient.

Elective Inpatient: A patient for whom the decision to admit could be separated in time from the actual admission.  This excludes emergency admissions and maternity or delivery episodes.

Finished Consultant Episode (FCE): A period of continuous admitted patient treatment under the care of a consultant.  An episode may be finished through death, discharge or transfer to the care of another consultant or hospital.  If the patient is transferred from one consultant to another, a new FCE commences.

Primary Diagnosis: The condition established as the main reason for admission after all investigations, diagnostic examinations and procedures have been carried out.

Procedure / Intervention: A procedure or series of procedures aimed at restoring or improving the health of a patient, as by correcting a malformation, removing diseased parts, implanting new parts, etc.  Defined by an OPCS code recorded in any of the procedure fields in the Hospital Inpatient System excluding codes Y80, Y81, Y82, Y84, Y90 and all Z codes.

Bed Days: A day of bed occupation by an admitted inpatient (beds used for day case admissions and regular day / night attenders are not included).  For example, if there are 100 inpatients who each remain in hospital for 5 days, the bed days figure will be 500.  The total number of bed days in Acute Episode-Based Activity Statistics has been calculated using the episode duration field within the Hospital Inpatient System; this is in contrast to the Inpatient and Day Case Activity Statistics publication which uses specialty-level bed occupancy data from the KH03a aggregate return.

4. This information was collated by Hospital Information Branch, DoH.

Further information is available from

Hospital Information Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2 Castle Buildings

Telephone: 028 9052 8452


5. Media queries to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0505 or, out of hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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