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Over 3,000 extra beds opened every day last winter


16 December 2016

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More than 3,000 hospital beds had to opened everyday last winter, a think tank report has found.

According to a new report by the Nuffield Trust, the average number of extra beds brought into service on any given day last winter was 3,466.

This is equivalent to at least five and half extra hospitals’-worth of beds.

However, on the single busiest day last winter in late January, 4,390 extra beds had to be opened to accommodate patient demand, equivalent to opening seven extra hospitals on that one day.

More than 3,000 hospital beds had to opened everyday last winter, a think tank report has found.

According to a new report by the Nuffield Trust, the average number of extra beds brought into service on any given day last winter was 3,466.

This is equivalent to at least five and half extra hospitals’-worth of beds.

However, on the single busiest day last winter in late January, 4,390 extra beds had to be opened to accommodate patient demand, equivalent to opening seven extra hospitals on that one day.

The think thank added that, on average over 95% of beds across English hospitals were occupied every day last winter.

This is despite evidence that once bed occupancy rates exceed 85%-90%, there is an increasing risk of infection.

The Nuffield Trust warned that given pressures on the health service have not lessened over the last 12 months, trusts will face similarly high bed occupancy rates this winter.

The report notes that as occupancy levels rise, it gets harder and harder to find beds for emergency patients who need to be admitted from A&E.

This affects a hospital’s ability to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be treated, admitted or discharged within four hours.

The bed availability data and occupancy numbers for each Trust were taken from the daily situation reports published by NHS England last winter.

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust said the high levels of bed occupancy linked to higher infection rates and longer waits in A&E, “pose a real threat to the smooth running of hospitals and, ultimately, to patient safety”.

He added: “What’s more, the NHS is going into this winter in an even worse position than it was a year ago, with record deficits, worse performance against the A&E target, far more trolley waits, record delayed discharges from hospital, and fewer people getting the help they need with social care. 

“When you add into that mix the sort of intense pressure on beds we’ve demonstrated hospitals experienced last winter, patients’ care is bound to suffer”.

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