Key findings: Inpatient activity
During 2021/22 there were 510,834 inpatient and day case admissions to hospital in Northern Ireland. This was an increase of 19.4% (83,102) on the number of admissions during 2020/21 but a decrease of 16.1% (97,704) on the number admitted during 2017/18.
Of the 510,834 admissions, 49.2% (251,178) were inpatient admissions and 50.8% (259,656) were day cases.
The day case rate for Acute services has increased from 80.3% in 2017/18 to 84.3% in 2021/22. The greatest increase occurred between 2020/21 and 2021/22 when the day case rate increased from 82.6% to 84.3%.
Between 2020/21 and 2021/22, the average number of available beds increased by 2.3% (131.6) from 5,672.6 to 5,804.2.
The greatest increase in average available beds was evident in the Acute programme of care, increasing by 133.4 (3.4%) beds from 3,951.5 in 2020/21 to 4,084.9 in 2021/22.
Occupancy rate in hospitals was 79.5% during 2021/22; this was a decrease from 83.5% in 2017/18, but an increase from 69.9% in 2020/21.
Average length of stay in hospitals has increased from 6.4 in 2020/21 to 6.7 days in 2021/22.
In 2021/22, there were 83,269 theatre cases across all HSC Trust hospitals in Northern Ireland; this was an increase of 39.3% (23,507) compared with 59,762 theatre cases in 2020/21.
The total number of hospital births in Northern Ireland increased by 264 (1.2%) from 21,531 births in 2020/21 to 21,795 hospital births in 2021/22.
Key findings: Inpatient and day case activity in the independent sector
In 2021/22 there were 20,039 admissions to hospital in Northern Ireland for an inpatient or day case procedure with an Independent Sector provider that was commissioned by the Health Service. This was an increase of 11,474 (134.0%) when compared with 2020/21.
All Independent Sector admissions occurred within the Acute Programme of Care. Information on Acute services within the Independent Sector is provided by the Strategic Planning and Performance Group in the Department of Health, split by commissioning HSC Trust and specialty (the HSC Trust responsible for the patient’s waiting time). Data on the number of HSC patients treated in the Independent Sector are not National Statistics and have not been validated by the Department.
Key findings: Outpatient activity
During 2021/22, there were 1,009,034 face-to-face attendances at consultant-led outpatient services within HSC hospitals in Northern Ireland, an increase of 46.3% on attendance levels in 2020/21 (689,898).
Almost one third of appointments (32.6%, 328,494) were new attendances, with the remaining 67.4% (680,540) being review attendances. This is a similar breakdown to previous years.
Patients cancelled 118,255 appointments, giving a Could Not Attend (CNA) rate of 10.5.
Hospitals cancelled a total of 155,987 appointments, giving a hospital cancellation rate of 13.4.
Patients missed a total of 93,081 appointments, giving a Did Not Attend (DNA) rate of 8.4.
During 2021/22, there were 4,784 outpatient attendances at a Day Case Procedure Centre (DPC) for the treatment of cataracts or varicose veins.
During 2021/22, 31,530 patients attended an appointment with an Independent Sector Provider, commissioned by the Health Service.
Key findings: Virtual attendances in HSC hospitals
During 2021/22 a total of 341,166 virtual attendances took place at consultant led outpatient services within HSC hospitals in Northern Ireland, a decrease of 24.2% (108,662) compared with 2020/21.
In 2021/22, around half (49.8%, 169,969) of the 449,828 virtual attendances were within the specialties of: T&O Surgery (28,744), General Surgery (28,040), Gastroenterology (26,213), Cardiology (24,149), Clinical Haematology (23,639), Endocrinology (20,528) and Urology (18,656).
Key findings: ICATS activity
During 2021/22, 67,978 patients were seen at an ICATS service in Northern Ireland. This was an increase of 15.6% (9,166) on the 58,812 seen during 2020/21.
Of the patients seen during 2021/22, 47.1% (32,028) were new attendances, with the remaining 52.9% (35,950) being review attendances.
Patients missed a total of 6,764 ICATS appointments during 2021/22, giving a Did Not Attend (DNA) rate of 9.0, compared with a rate of 8.1 reported for 2020/21.
Patients cancelled 8,358 appointments during 2021/22, giving a Could Not Attend (CNA) rate of 10.9, higher than the CNA rate of 7.0 reported for 2020/21.
Hospitals cancelled 9,269 appointments during 2021/22, giving a hospital cancellation rate of 12.0, compared with a hospital cancellation rate of 12.5 reported during 2020/21.