Reviewing ‘stranded’ patients in hospital – what are patients waiting for?


These resources will help you undertake a stranded patient review in any setting, from the acute trust to reablement services. These should be multi-agency in approach. The result should support the patient along their journey, providing data and evidence to inform system change discussions.

The Emergency Care Improvement Programme (ECIP) defines stranded patients as those with a length of stay of seven days or more. A stranded patient review is a snapshot audit of a health setting (for example, an acute trust or whole health system) on a single day, to find out what patients are waiting for and how many could be treated in a different setting. It identifies what the clinical plan is for each stranded patient, and what the next steps will be on the day of review.

Why undertake stranded patient reviews?

A stranded patient review, even if done only once, will provide useful information about your ward, trust or system. Reviews highlight opportunities to care for patients in a different, potentially safer, way by overcoming key delays and identifying patient groups currently stuck in your system who could be cared for at home. Patient stories can convince everyone in the system that it’s important to overcome delays in discharge, and act as a catalyst for bigger improvements. These reviews are likely to dispel myths in your system about why patients are waiting. 


This guidance on reviewing patients ‘stranded’ in hospital is for local use. 

Some trusts use this stranded patient CQUIN to support implementation. 

Case studies

Read these case studies on the Academy of Fabulous Stuff website to learn how others have used the stranded patient review: 


Our elective care team has also produced these useful videos

Find out more

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Related content

You can also access all our rapid improvement guides to support improvements in urgent and emergency care at rapid improvement guides

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