NHS bed occupancy levels hit record high during last quarter of 2016

The latest NHS bed occupancy figures are the highest ever recorded for a third quarter since quarterly data collections began in 2010, providing a further sign of the system’s capacity challenges.

The average occupancy rate for all beds open overnight between October and December 2016 was 88.3% – up from 87.2% for the same quarter in 2015-16 – against the 85% standard, according to data published by NHS England.

Higher bed occupancy figures have only ever been recorded in fourth quarters, which are usually the busiest period of the year for the NHS. Overall, bed occupancy rates were 89% in quarter four of 2015-16, and 88.5% in quarter four of 2014-15.

The average occupancy rate for general and acute beds open overnight in quarter three this year was 90.5%, compared with 89.1% a year earlier.

Health Service Journal analysis of the data shows six hospital trusts recorded average general and acute bed occupancy rates of over 99% for the quarter. Nine more recorded a rate of over 95%, while further 10 recorded average occupancy of over 95%.

Full story in Nursing Times 27 February 2017