Figures obtained by Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley show that the number of patients readmitted as emergency cases has risen by nearly one-third over the last four years. In the first quarter of 2002-03 5.4% of those sent home from hospital were readmitted as emergencies within 28 days. That percentage increased to 7.1% by the final quarter of 2005-06.
"These are worrying figures. On the face of it, hospitals may be discharging patients sooner than they should be, resulting in a greater risk of emergency readmission. High bed occupancy rates and the Government’s push to achieve waiting time targets may be responsible for compromising patient safety in this way. It is also inefficient to readmit patients, adding extra costs to many hospitals already overstretched by deficits."