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Bed occupancy rate hits record high in first quarter of 2017


By Carolyn Wickware
26 May 2017

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Overnight bed occupancy rate hit a record high in the first three months of this calendar year, according to official figures published by NHS England.

Between January and March this year, the average overnight occupancy in hospitals was 91.4% while the recommended safe limit is 85%.

However the statistics show that some hospitals, such as Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were operating at 99% capacity.

Overnight bed occupancy rate hit a record high in the first three months of this calendar year, according to official figures published by NHS England.

Between January and March this year, the average overnight occupancy in hospitals was 91.4% while the recommended safe limit is 85%.

However the statistics show that some hospitals, such as Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were operating at 99% capacity.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the quality of care, including patient safety, ‘can be compromised when bed occupancy rises above 85%’.

He said: ‘This puts staff under intolerable pressure. There is an increased risk of infection. And crucially, it means hospitals have less capacity to cope with unpredictable events.’

Mr Hopson added that hospital trusts are working at capacity levels ‘beyond those which other international health systems would regard as acceptable’.

He said: ‘The pressure has been compounded by delays in discharging medically fit patients from hospitals, often because of problems arranging social care. There has also been a worrying fall in intermediate out of hospital bed capacity.’

‘The situation is unsustainable. We have to ensure the NHS has the capacity to deal with growing demand. And we must act quickly, to prepare for next winter.’

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