Two in five patients using hospital services in 2012-13 had a diagnostic imaging procedure as part of their care, according to a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The information is based on an analysis linking data from two sources: hospital data from the Hospital Episode Statistics and diagnostic imaging data from the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. It relates to all three main hospital services: admitted patient care, A&E and outpatients.

The report says that nearly 27m unique patients were recorded as having at least one interaction with an NHS hospital in 2012-13 and, of these, 11m (40%) had at least one imaging procedure.

It breaks the figures down further by hospital admissions, A&E attendance and outpatient appointments.

Of the 9m patients admitted to hospital at least once in the year, 5m (58%) had at least one imaging procedure during the year.

Twelve million patients attended A&E at least once, and almost half of these had at least one imaging procedure.

The most common procedure was x-ray. Of inpatients who underwent a diagnostic imaging procedure, 54% received x-rays. The comparable figure for A&E patients was 91%, and for outpatients, it was 40%.

The second most common procedure was diagnostic ultrasonography (used on 16% of inpatients who underwent a diagnostic imaging procedure, 2% of A&E patients who did so, and 29% of outpatients who did so.)

HES is a data warehouse holding the record of all admissions, outpatient appointments and accident and emergency attendances at NHS hospitals in England.

The DID is a data set that captures information relating to imaging procedures funded by the NHS. This includes details about where the referral came from, patient demographics, type of imaging and key dates in the imaging process.

Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said: “Today’s report is the latest example of data linkage by the HSCIC.

"Linkage has the potential to help drive better treatments and outcomes; offering evidence and context about different patient pathways for commissioners, health and social care professionals, patients and the public.”

The HSCIC said it would build on these initial findings to produce a more in-depth report in 2014.