New Discharge Ready Date

Classification: Official
Publication reference: PRN00603_i


  • All integrated care boards (ICB) chief executives
  • All NHS acute, mental health and community foundation trust chief executives
  • Medical directors and directors of nursing
  • Chief financial officers of all acute trusts


  • NHS England regional directors and discharge leads

Dear colleagues,

New Discharge Ready Date

The delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care published in January 2023 set clear aims to deliver a health system that provides better care for patients in all settings. An important part of this is making sure patients are not in hospital for longer than necessary. We know that long stays in hospital are not good for patients or their independence and can lead to poorer health and economic outcomes.

Ensuring patients are discharged in a timely manner is an important part of this. The recovery plan committed to the development of a new metric for discharge to help better record and monitor when patients are ready for discharge, and to encourage that process to begin earlier. This new metric will measure the time between a patient no longer meeting the Criteria to Reside (their “Discharge Ready Date”) and their actual date of discharge. We wrote to you earlier in the year regarding this, and we want to thank you for your efforts to far in recording this.

We know that many have found this data challenging to record so we have now issued updated guidance on how to record this data to make it easier for ward staff to focus their attention on those patients whose discharge is delayed.

Collecting this data is important to allow us to understand the number of simple discharges vs complex discharges, the length of delay for each patient, and do more detailed analysis to understand trends in those data which can then be used to create better outcomes for patients.

With this letter you will find guidance, worked examples and some commonly asked questions to assist with the recording and delivery of collecting this data. 

We know you are focused on delivering the ambitions outlined in the delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care and thank you for your work so far in this space.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director, NHS England.
Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS England.
Sarah-Jane Marsh, National Director for Urgent and Emergency Care and Deputy Chief Operating Officer
NHS England.
Ming Tang, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, NHS England.