Long term solutions needed to address bed occupancy pressures

16 December 2016

A new analysis of last year’s winter performance data reports by the Nuffield Trust has found that on any given day last winter, the equivalent of ore than five extra hospitals’-worth of beds had to be brought into service to cope with demand.

The report also found that on average 95% of hospital beds in England were occupied each day over the 2015/16 winter period.

The reports highlight the pressure on bed occupancy rates and highlights why high bed occupancy rates cause problems for patients and staff in the NHS.

Responding to the Nuffield Trust analysis of winter performance reports, Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy for NHS Providers said:
“The analysis by the Nuffield Trust highlights an NHS which is running at full stretch. It is a testament to the dedication of NHS frontline staff that more patients than ever are being treated, and standards of care remain among the highest in the world. 

When bed occupancy is so high, the NHS is less resilient to cope with problems, such as outbreaks of winter flu or norovirus

“The data shows that last winter, on any given day, the average bed occupancy was around 95%, well above the recommended guidance for supporting effective patient flow. Despite the best efforts of the workforce, these pressures create a potential risk to patient care. When bed occupancy is so high, the NHS is less resilient to cope with problems, such as outbreaks of winter flu or norovirus. This is particularly worrying as we head into the busiest period of the year for the health service.
“We continue to see growing pressures on hospitals, mental health and community trusts and ambulance services. A & E attendances have climbed to near-record levels and delayed transfers of care continue to rise. Yesterday, we welcomed the government’s announcement of additional funding for adult social care through the precept and new homes bonus, but long term solutions are needed. We need to ease the demand pressures on the NHS by helping people out of hospital and into appropriate care settings, or, wherever possible avoid admission altogether.”



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