Patient safety

05.03.18

This winter has been most difficult to date, according to two-thirds of Confed members

Bed occupancy in England’s hospitals hit 96% last month as the ‘beast from the east’ battered the country, the latest winter situation report from NHS England has revealed.

This winter has seen bed occupancy consistently above 94%, which is well above the recommended safe levels of 85%, but this has spiked to 96% during the recent cold snap.

Between 19 to 25 February, England saw 12 A&E departments experiencing diverts and a whopping 2,873 ambulance patients faced waits of over an hour before being handed over to A&E staff.

A further 9,437 ambulance patients experienced delays of between 30 to 60 minutes.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation argued that it is time to “stop describing the problem and start putting forward solutions.”

He warned that there is a danger that people start to “accept the unacceptable,” adding: “A recent poll of our members showed nearly two-thirds believe this to be the most difficult winter in their careers, and that's despite extensive planning.

“And of course, the last few days have been horrendous in some areas of the country, not least for community staff going out to support the most vulnerable.”

Dr. Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The latest weekly performance figures provide stark reading with 18,000 patients in hospital for more than 21 days and bed occupancy still at 95%.”

Referring to the difficult weather conditions experienced recently, he concluded: “This week really has shown the passion, dedication, commitment and care of staff in our acute medical units and throughout hospitals in the most testing of conditions.

“If this winter doesn’t demonstrate the desperate need to bring planning forward then what would?”

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