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Exploring variation in emergency bed use by older people
  1. Geoffrey Hughes
  1. Correspondence to Professor Geoffrey Hughes, Department of Emergency, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia; cchdhb{at}

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The King's Fund in the UK has produced another publication looking at hospital flow and activity. Called ‘Explaining variation in use of emergency hospital beds by patients over 65’, it does not look, at first glance, to be of direct relevance to readers of this journal; closer scrutiny reveals that this is not quite the case1.

As The Fund states: ‘An emergency admission to hospital is a disruptive and unsettling experience, particularly for older people, exposing them to new clinical and psychological risks and increasing their dependency. Acute bed usage for older people can be reduced through avoiding emergency admissions and/or reducing excessive lengths of stay’.

There are more than 2 million unplanned admissions a year for people over the age of 65 years, accounting for 68% of hospital emergency bed days, and more than 51 000 acute beds at any one time. Some key points from ‘Explaining variation in use of emergency hospital beds by patients over 65’ are listed below:

  • There is significant variation in the use of hospital beds by people …

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