Length of stay for hip replacement patients has fallen by 25 per cent during the past five years but variations between trusts remain, according to information company Dr Foster Intelligence.

Data shared with HSJ shows that in 2005-06 the median stay for patients undergoing elective hip replacements was 7.2 days but by 2009-10 this had fallen to 5.4 days.

However, at five trusts lengths of stay increased during the same period.

St George’s Healthcare Trust, the worst performer in 2005-06 at 13 days, reduced median stay by 3.5 days but was still in the bottom 10 four years later. Medical director Mike Bailey told HSJ the trust only took on complex cases.

The difference between the best and the worst trusts has not changed since 2005-06. In 2009-10, average stays around the country ranged from three to 10 days. However, the proportion of trusts with median stays of eight days or more fell from 35 per cent in 2005-06 to just 6 per cent last year.

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust halved its length of stay for the procedure to four days by 2009-10, the largest reduction at any trust.

Director of emergency surgery and elective care Ann Wright told HSJ the “key to its success” was using a low dose spinal anaesthetic and ensuring patients were educated about their operation.

The figures are based on secondary uses service data. Trusts with fewer than 40 spells per year were discounted.