latest health care news

25.08.17

Bed occupancy rate drops in Q1, but DToC rate ‘does not bode well’ for winter

Pressure has eased on bed occupancy in Q1, but Delayed Transfers of Care (DToC) for patients who are fit to move to community care has remained “stubbornly high”.

Figures released by NHS England for the quarter ending 30 June found that the average occupancy rate for all beds overnight was 87.1%, compared to 89% for the same period last year.

And after bed occupancy hit its highest ever level in May, the average occupancy rate for general and acute beds open overnight went down from 91.4% in Q4 2016-17 to 89.1% in Q1 2017-18.

On average, bed numbers open overnight was 129,978 in Q1, a decrease from Q4 when it stood at 131,060.

But providers have said that though this is an encouraging sign, more still needed to be done to free up bed space by avoiding DTOCs.

“Delayed transfers of care are a major cause of anxiety and inconvenience for patients,” said chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson. “They also affect the ability of hospitals, mental health and community trusts and ambulance services to deal with spikes in demand.

“That is why tackling the problem is such a priority for the NHS. These figures show a modest dip in DTOC rates and bed occupancy levels compared with the start of the year, but nothing like the progress needed to hit the 3.5% target set for the NHS by September.”

Hopson also argued that just 80 out of more than 200 trusts met this standard, something that did not bode well for the coming winter when providers expect to see further pressures on the health service.

“We need urgent action to put in place additional capacity, not just in hospitals but right across the health and care system. It is notable that the DTOC rate was highest in community trusts,” Hopson continued.

“Decisions are needed now to ensure patient safety and prevent intolerable pressures on NHS staff in the coming months.”

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