Background: The aim was to describe the management of benign gallbladder disease and identify characteristics associated with all-cause 30-day readmissions and complications in a prospective population-based cohort. Methods: Data were collected on consecutive patients undergoing cholecystectomy in acute UK and Irish hospitals between 1 March and 1 May 2014. Potential explanatory variables influencing all-cause 30-day readmissions and complications were analysed by means of multilevel, multivariable logistic regression modelling using a two-level hierarchical structure with patients (level 1) nested within hospitals (level 2). Results: Data were collected on 8909 patients undergoing cholecystectomy from 167 hospitals. Some 1451 cholecystectomies (16·3 per cent) were performed as an emergency, 4165 (46·8 per cent) as elective operations, and 3293 patients (37·0 per cent) had had at least one previous emergency admission, but had surgery on a delayed basis. The readmission and complication rates at 30 days were 7·1 per cent (633 of 8909) and 10·8 per cent (962 of 8909) respectively. Both readmissions and complications were independently associated with increasing ASA fitness grade, duration of surgery, and increasing numbers of emergency admissions with gallbladder disease before cholecystectomy. No identifiable hospital characteristics were linked to readmissions and complications. Conclusion: Readmissions and complications following cholecystectomy are common and associated with patient and disease characteristics.