Definitions of terms used in this data release
Acute hospital care
‘Acute’ hospital care includes activity occurring in major teaching hospitals, district general hospitals and community hospitals.
Includes: services such as consultation with specialist clinicians; emergency treatment; routine, complex and life-saving surgery; specialist diagnostic procedures; close observation; short-term care of patients.
Excludes: obstetric services; psychiatric services; long-stay care services; non-consultant-led clinics.
All available staffed beds
An available staffed bed is a bed that can be used for an inpatient or day case care. All available staffed beds (external website) = allocated beds (external website) + borrowed beds (external website) – lent beds (external website) + temporary beds (external website):
Total number of available staffed bed days (AASB) = Sum of all available staffed beds (external website) for each day in the quarter.
Average available staffed beds
Average number of available staffed beds per day (ASB) = AASB ÷ number of days in the quarter.
Average length of spell
This is the average number of days that a patient spends in hospital during a specialty spell at a given location. It is calculated by dividing the total length of spell for all inpatients at a given location during the relevant quarter by the total number of specialty spells.
Average length of stay
This is the average number of days that a patient spends in hospital during a continuous inpatient stay (CIS). It is calculated by dividing the total length of stay for all inpatients during the relevant quarter by the total number of CISs.
Continuous Inpatient Stay (CIS)
A continuous inpatient stay is an unbroken period of time that a patient spends as an inpatient. However, a patient may change consultant, significant facility, specialty and/or hospital during a continuous inpatient stay. A single CIS may contain several episodes/specialty spells.
Probability matching methods have been used to link together individual SMR01 hospital episodes for each patient, thereby creating ‘linked’ patient histories. Within these patient histories, SMR01 episodes are grouped according to whether they form part of a continuous spell of treatment from first episode admission to last episode discharge (whether or not this involves transfer between hospitals or even NHS boards).
When showing information by CIS, the admission type (such as elective or emergency) is determined by the first admitting episode. As a result, transfers will generally not appear within the CIS analysis. When a transfer does appear, it is often the result of a patient being transferred from another provider unit (for example, outside Scotland). However, there will also be instances where the admission type has been incorrectly coded (‘not specified’). Unfortunately, it is not possible to fully ascertain what the correct admission type should have been. As a result, a small proportion of ‘not specified’ cases (less than 1%) appear within the data.
A day case is when a patient makes a planned attendance for one day to a specialty for clinical care and requires the use of a bed (or trolley in lieu of a bed). Although a day case is usually completed on the same day, the patient may need to be admitted as an inpatient if they are not fit to be discharged.
Did Not Attends (DNAs)
There are people who do not attend their outpatient appointment without making the hospital aware in advance: these appointments are known as Did Not Attends (DNAs).
A hospital discharge marks the end of an episode of care. Discharges include deaths, transfers to other specialties or significant facilities and hospitals, and discharges home or to another regular place of residence.
Elective (planned) admission
An elective (or planned) admission is when a patient has been given a date to come to hospital for a planned procedure or treatment.
An emergency admission occurs when, for clinical reasons, a patient is admitted unexpectedly at the earliest possible time. This might be after a visit to a doctor, emergency department or calling an ambulance.
An SMR01 episode is generated when a patient is discharged from hospital but also when a patient is transferred between hospitals, significant facilities, specialties or to the care of a different consultant.
A patient is termed an inpatient when they occupy a staffed bed in a hospital and either remain overnight (whether intended or not) or are expected to remain overnight but are discharged earlier. An inpatient’s admission can be an emergency, an elective or a transfer.
Length of spell
This is the total number of days that a patient spends in hospital during a specialty spell at a given location.
Length of stay
This is the total number of days that a patient spends in hospital during a CIS.
New outpatient attendances
New attendances are the number of attendances for a new appointment at an outpatient service.
Non-NHS provider data
‘Non-NHS provider’ figures relate to patients treated in non-NHS locations such as private hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, care homes, etc. Patients who receive treatment paid for by the respective NHS board at a private (independent) hospital should be recorded within the Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR) by the relevant NHS board. However, if a patient is treated privately (where treatment is paid for by the patient or a private insurer) and there is no NHS involvement, then this activity will not be recorded within the SMR.
The ‘not specified’ measure relates to instances where the admission type has been incorrectly coded. Unfortunately, it is not possible to fully ascertain what the correct admission type should have been. As a result, a small proportion of ‘not specified’ cases (less than 1%) appear within the data.
The percentage occupancy is the percentage of average available staffed beds that were occupied by inpatients during the period:
Percentage occupancy = (AOB ÷ ASB) × 100
An occupied bed is an available staffed bed, which is either being used to accommodate an inpatient or reserved for a patient on pass (external website):
Total number of occupied bed days (TOBD) = Sum of the occupied beds (external website) for each day in the quarter.
Average number of occupied beds per day (AOB) = TOBD ÷ number of days in the quarter.
An outpatient is a patient who attends a consultant or other medical clinic or has an arranged meeting with a consultant or a senior member of their team outside of a clinic session. Outpatient attendances involve treatment or assessment that only take a short time to complete. Outpatient attendances are categorised as new or return (follow-up). Outpatient data within this publication are for consultant-led activity only.
This relates to individual patients. However, the same patient can be counted more than once if they change subgroup (such as specialty, type of admission, NHS board). In these cases, a patient will be counted once within each subtotal, but only once in the overall total.
For example, if a patient was admitted three times in a single year (twice as an emergency admission and once as an elective admission), they would be counted once in each sub-total of emergency and elective admissions and once in the overall total of admission types.
The same patient will also be counted for each of the financial years they were admitted in hospital. For example, if a patient was admitted in 2010/11 and 2012/13, they would be counted in each of these years.
Return outpatient attendances
Return (follow-up) attendances are the number of attendances to an outpatient service which are related to an original case.
Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)
The SIMD uses a wide range of information for small areas (data zones) to identify concentrations of multiple deprivation across Scotland. Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website (external website).
A specialty is defined as a division of medicine or dentistry covering a specific area of clinical activity. There are two specialty groupings (external website) that most specialties sit in: Medical and Surgical. The Acute specialty grouping includes the Medical and Surgical groupings combined. A full listing of specialties covered by the data sets used in this publication is available in the specialty grouping file (XLS, 23.2 KB). Further information can also be found on the Health & Social Care data dictionary web page (external website).
A specialty spell is a period of time that a patient spends as an inpatient in a specialty at a given location. However, a patient may change consultant, significant facility and/or hospital during a specialty spell. For more information on the specialty spells methodology, please see the Specialty Spells Methodology paper (PDF, 313 KB).
A transfer occurs when a patient needs to be moved to another doctor, clinical specialty or facility within the hospital (or another hospital altogether) to receive the specialist care they require after they have been admitted to hospital. The majority of these transfers are planned (elective) transfers.
Further details are available in the Health & Social Care data dictionary (external website).