ambulance

NHS hospital beds already at 94 percent occupancy

Hospitals in England are currently at 94 percent and four in five critical care beds are already occupied despite the new Omicron variant being at the early stages according to experts.

NHS statistics published findings which showed hospitals under immense pressure which has caused concerns for how the health sector will cope with the increasing demand over the next coming months.

Chris Hopson, Chief Executive, NHS Providers said: “It is worrying that 94% of hospital beds and 81% of critical care beds are already full, given the new Omicron variant is in its early stages and has so far led to only a relatively small number of people needing hospital care.

“However, with infection levels rising rapidly, trust leaders are increasingly clear that they are likely to see significant numbers of extra Covid-19 patients over the coming weeks. What remains unclear is how many patients and with what severity of illness.”

Currently, of the 4,016 critical care beds in hospitals in England, 3,246 (80.8%) are already occupied. Remaining beds will be used for anyone becoming seriously ill from the new covid variant.

Data has also shown that one in four ambulance handovers take over 30 minutes to complete. Some trusts in England diverted patients in ambulances to other nearby hospitals due to their A&E already being overwhelmed with admissions.

The target time for ambulance handovers is 15 minutes from the point of arrival but one in 10 took an hour or longer before A&E personnel took over from the ambulance crew.

Over 10,000 beds are currently being taken up by patients who are medically fit enough to be discharged, but due to a lack of capacity in social care, hospitals are forced to keep beds available for them.

Saffron Cordery, NHS Providers’ deputy chief executive said: “These figures highlight how trusts are consistently working under significant pressure, operating beyond full stretch, before Omicron has even taken full hold in the community.

“While the picture is still emerging about how severe the impact from Omicron might be, the NHS is expecting many more patients in hospital over the coming weeks, as even a small percentage of people needing care from thousands of infections is still a large number.”

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