About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update on a range of statistics on different aspects of hospital care, sourced from hospital administration systems across Scotland. These include information on trends in: outpatient, inpatient and day case activity; numbers of medical diagnoses, operations and emergency admissions; and beds statistics. Data presented for 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 are provisional and subject to change in future publications as submissions may be updated to reflect a more accurate complete set of data from NHS boards.

Main points

Please note this release includes the period of Scotland going into emergency measures due to COVID-19, which is impacting on the volume of hospital activity and trends observed. For example, inpatient and day case activity has decreased by nearly a third and outpatient activity has reduced by over a quarter when comparing financial years 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Hospital admissions

Number of people admitted to Scottish hospitals, 2020/21(provisional)

This is an image which shows admissions into Scottish hospitals for the financial year 2020/21, excluding admissions to maternity wards and mental health hospitals. one in eleven Scottish residents were admitted to hospital in 2020/21. Of these, 70% had one hospital admission, 17% had two admissions and 13% had three or more admissions. Of the 0.9 million hospital admissions in 2020/21, 59% were emergency inpatient admissions, 9% were elective inpatient admissions and 32% were day case admissions.
  • Around 0.5 million Scottish residents (one in eleven of the population) were admitted to hospital in 2020/21. Of these, three out of ten patients (30%) had more than one admission.
  • There were just under 0.9 million admissions into hospital in 2020/21; a 30% decrease compared to last year (2019/20) and five years ago (2015/16).
  • In 2020/21, there were around 0.7 million total main procedures performed within the acute hospital care setting; a 40% decrease on last year (2019/20) and a 43% decrease in the last four years (2016/17).


  • The average number of available hospital beds in Scotland has generally been decreasing over the years. In 2020/21, the average available staffed beds for acute specialties was 12,869; a 2.5% decrease on last year (2019/20) and a 6.9% reduction when compared to five years ago (2015/16). After remaining relatively stable for several years, the percentage occupancy for acute specialties dropped from 85.8% in 2019/20 to 74.7% in 2020/21.


  • Around 0.7 million Scottish residents (one in eight of the population) visited an outpatient department in 2020/21 as a new outpatient.
  • Overall, there were around 3 million total outpatient attendances (new and return/follow-up) in 2020/21; a 28% decrease on last year (2019/20) and a 33% reduction in the last five years (2015/16). There were over 0.8 million new outpatient attendances and around 2.2 million return attendances. 7.8% (72,629) of new outpatient appointments were not kept without prior notification ('Did Not Attends').

Data quality

There are known issues with the quality of data presented such as the outpatient completeness. For more information please see the data issues and completeness document which accompanies this publication.


Definitions of outpatients, admissions and available staffed beds are available within the Glossary Section of the full report. Further details are also available the Health and Social Care Data Dictionary (external website).

Further information

Disclosure control methods have been applied to the data in order to protect patient confidentiality, therefore some figures on total counts may not be additive.

The next release of this publication will be in September 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.qualityindicators@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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