Annual Outpatient Activity

Patients who require the medical opinion of a specialist clinician may be referred to an outpatient clinic for treatment or investigation. An outpatient is a patient who attends (outpatient attendance) a consultant or other medical clinic, or has an arranged meeting with a consultant or a senior member of their team outwith a clinic session. Outpatients are not admitted to a hospital and do not use a hospital bed.

Outpatient attendances can be categorised as new or follow-up (return) attendances. Information on return appointments is only available for datasets that report on NHS Board of Treatment. Files reporting on the residency of patients only contain data for new outpatients as the ISD(S)1 data source for return outpatients does not contain residence information. ISD(S)1 also does not record information on the deprivation, age or sex of patients.

A variety of operations are carried out in NHSScotland and, increasingly, less complex procedures are undertaken in an outpatient setting. For further information on these procedures, see the Operations/Procedures section of the Public Health Scotland website.

Further information on hospital activity can be found in the recent annual publication.

The date of the next release can be found on our list of forthcoming publications.

As part of making our open data output align better with our annual publication tables, we have added health board of treatment column and qualifier columns (HB, HBQF) to the “Inpatient and Day case” and “Outpatient” files which have a breakdown by Location of Treatment.

As part of making our open data output align better with our annual publication tables, we have applied new column ordering to the Inpatient, Outpatient and Beds files in the September 2021 annual open data release consistent with the publication excel tables.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Source Outpatient data is sourced from SMR00
Author Secondary Care Team
Last Updated September 28, 2021, 11:09 (BST)
Created September 24, 2020, 13:48 (BST)
Contact Address Public Health Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB
Subject Hospital Care
Frequency Annual
Time frame of data and timeliness Data is published from financial year ending 31 March 2011 to financial year ending 31 March 2020.
Coverage Covers all NHS Boards in Scotland since financial year ending 31 March 2011. The outpatient location of treatment files do not include non-hospital locations. Non-hospital locations have been defined as locations where the code doesn’t end in a “H” (which indicates hospital) or where the code is not a private hospital. Our current open data guidance does not enable us to create codes for the non-hospital location grouping. As a result, there may be differences when summing the locations to a NHS board level and comparing the totals to the health board files. However, the NHSScotland (S92000003) total will match the NHS Board open data files and the outpatient excel file. The figures for the non-hospital locations can be found in “Table – 1 Outpatient Activity (Consultant-led)” on the Public Health Scotland website.
Completeness At the time of extract, the completeness of SMR00 for 2019/20 was 99%. For the completeness of SMR00 in other years see
Accuracy Please refer to Appendix A2 of the report.
Continuity of data There are known issues with the quality of data presented such as inpatient and daycase completeness. For more information please see the data issues and completeness document Change to Council Area/NHS Board codes: There has been two minor boundary changes to council area since early 2018. As a result, the following geographies are impacted and new 9-digit codes have been generated: Council Areas, Electoral Wards, Health Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships, Police Divisions, Fire and Rescue, Postcodes and LAU1. Further details on these changes and the affected geography codes are detailed in the Geography Codes and Labels dataset metadata: Hospital/location code changes: Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary (Y104H) moved location in December 2017, and activity is now recorded under a new code, Y146H. The name remains “Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary”. To ensure that no activity is missed, and to allow trends to be presented, the two hospital codes Y146H and Y104H (for SMR01 and SMR00 activity) are combined in our analyses under Y146H. The old site (Y104H) still exists and is now a treatment centre named “Mountainhall Treatment Centre”. This new activity will be reported separately under a new code (Y177C) which came into effect in December 2017. From 1st December 2018, Stirling Community Hospital closed along with all its wards and the Bellfield Centre opened. The Bellfield Centre provides short-term inpatient care, assessment or rehabilitation for people who require additional support following an operation or illness. Within the Bellfield Centre there is one new NHS ward, the Wallace Suite. Most of the beds are converting to partnership controlled intermediate beds. This may impact on NHS Forth Valley’s bed figures. Balfour Hospital (R101H) moved location between April and November 2019. Both the hospital name and code have changed to “The Balfour” and R103H respectively. For inpatient and beds activity, both hospital codes have been added together. For outpatient activity, both hospital locations are reported separately whilst this move is still in transition. “Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice” and “Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice” – new location has been built in 2018 with different location codes. The new location code is G604V; the old one G414V). Geographical coding changes have been applied to make the coding of ‘Other’ locations e.g. when patients have no fixed abode and are resident outside Scotland/UK to be consistent with PHS Open Data Geography Codes.
Concepts and definitions Please see the Glossary section within the report and the excel data tables which accompany this publication. Further details are also available on the Health and Social Care Data Dictionary: For detailed information on the data sources and clinical coding used within Hospital Care analysis please refer to the SMR Datasets, ISD(S)1 data collection and Terminology Services web pages: Please see the Hospital Locations Lookup ( for location codes used in this annual publication, including those that are not present in the Current NHS Hospitals lookup.
Disclosure Disclosure control methods have been applied to the data in order to protect patient confidentiality, therefore some figures may not be additive. The PHS protocol on Statistical Disclosure Protocol is followed.
Revision statement All revisions to data within this release are planned and are due to incomplete data returns at the time of publication. All tables will be revised annually. In general, these revisions have minimal effect on the statistics. If data providers discover that data submitted for publication is incorrect, and/or missing/incomplete and is significant, this can be re-submitted and published in subsequent releases. Any changes will be highlighted within the notes on the affected table. Please see the PHS revisions policy for further details.
Official statistics designation The UK Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics, available on the UK Statistics Authority website.
Relevance and key uses of the statistics To compare areas and activity across Scotland and view trends over time. To allow NHS Board employees to compare activity levels nationally, e.g. NHS clinical consultants interested in their specialty figures by NHS Board, NHS information managers planning capacity, to assist in the development of Service Agreements between NHS Boards. To investigate the implications of common systemic diseases in Scotland as a basis for assessing health demands in the future. To assess whether patients were treated within or outwith their own NHS Board. To allow members of the public to readily access information on the number of hospital admissions for specific diagnoses or procedures that may be of personal interest to them. To assist students and universities conducting medical studies for research purposes. Private companies interested in hospital activity levels in Scotland such as pharmaceutical companies, consultancy companies employed by NHS Trusts in England, advertising/media companies on behalf of clients.
Format csv
Language English

Annual Publication

NHS England Outcomes and Performance, Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)

NHS Wales Outpatient Activity

Northern Ireland Hospital Statistics and Research

Hospital Locations Lookup

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