Burden, duration and costs of hospital bed closures due to acute gastroenteritis in England per winter, 2010/11–2015/16

F. G. Sandmann*, M. Jit, Julie Robotham, S. R. Deeny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background Bed closures due to acute gastroenteritis put hospitals under pressure each winter. In England, the National Health Service (NHS) has monitored the winter situation for all acute trusts since 2010/11. Aim To estimate the burden, duration and costs of hospital bed closures due to acute gastroenteritis in winter. Methods A retrospective analysis of routinely collected time-series data of bed closures due to diarrhoea and vomiting was conducted for the winters 2010/11 to 2015/16. Two key issues were addressed by imputing non-randomly missing values at provider level, and filtering observations to a range of dates recorded in all six winters. The lowest and highest values imputed were taken to represent the best- and worst-case scenarios. Bed-days were costed using NHS reference costs, and potential staff absence costs were based on previous studies. Findings In the best-to-worst case, a median of 88,000–113,000 beds were closed due to gastroenteritis each winter. Of these, 19.6–20.4% were unoccupied. On average, 80% of providers were affected, and had closed beds for a median of 15–21 days each winter. Hospital costs of closed beds were £5.7–£7.5 million, which increased to £6.9–£10.0 million when including staff absence costs due to illness. Conclusions The median number of hospital beds closed due to acute gastroenteritis per winter was equivalent to all general and acute hospital beds in England being unavailable for a median of 0.88–1.12 days. Costs for hospitals are high but vary with closures each winter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All authors are affiliated with or employed by Public Health England. MJ was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Immunization at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Public Health England (Grant Reference Code HPRU-2012-10096). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Burden of disease
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hospital costs
  • Length of stay
  • Norovirus
  • Outbreaks


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