South Tynesiders visit hospital more often than anyone else in the North East, according to new figures.
Latest statistics reveal that there were 400 admissions per 100,000 people in the borough in the year to March 2014.
These figures for South Tyneside appear higher than the rest of the North East because the also include what are known as ‘ambulatory care episodes’.Dr Matthew Walmsley
Altogether, there were 59,404 visits to South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields during those 12 months.
That was a 4.9 per cent increase on the previous year’s total of 56,656 visits to the Harton Lane hospital, according to figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
However, health bosses say the borough’s figure is artificially high due to ‘ambulatory care episodes’ – people not actually being admitted to hospital but spending a short period being assessed – also being included.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “No one wants to spend time in hospital unless it is absolutely necessary, and we work closely with the hospital trust to reduce the number of emergency admissions.
“These figures for South Tyneside appear higher than the rest of the North East because they also include what are known as ambulatory care episodes.
“This is more like outpatient care, in that patients are not actually admitted to a hospital ward but spend a short period being assessed and treated, spending less than a day in hospital.
“A more realistic figure, with ambulatory care removed, shows a reduction in emergency admissions and a slight increase in planned operations, which means better care for patients and better use of NHS resources.”
The visits, classed as finished admission episodes, are first periods of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider.
Admissions do not represent the number of patients treated as a single person might have been admitted to hospital more than once within the year.
The borough’s population admission rate, at 400, is higher than Sunderland’s 349.3, Gateshead’s 346.2, North Tyneside’s 345.7 and Newcastle North and East’s 278.4 .
Twitter: @shields gazvez