Patient safety

21.12.17

Winter pressures deepen as bed occupancy hits staggering 95%

The latest winter operation update published by NHS England has revealed that average bed occupancy rose to 95% last week.

Bed occupancy was already exceeding safe levels, running close to 95% the previous week.

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, who sits on NHE's Editorial Board, said that this increase in bed occupancy is worrying given that they were already above the recommended upper level of 85%.

She warned that despite the NHS’s winter preparations, its plans are being put to the test.

Last week saw 15% of ambulance handovers delayed by more than 30 minutes, and 3.5% by more than an hour.

Cordery said that it is “a concern that more patients are experiencing handover delays when they arrive at hospital by ambulance. This also ties up ambulance crews who may be needed for other emergencies.

“It is likely that flu and recent cold weather is now beginning to bite,” she added. “NHS trusts are working at full stretch to provide the best possible care. The extra winter funding that was announced in the budget has now been allocated.

“Trusts will need to take urgent decisions on how to make the most of this late boost, to help them through the difficult weeks ahead.”

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