NHS: Shortage of “at least 4,000” beds expected for next winter

Full story at HSJ 30 April 2018 

NHS national leaders have estimated the service is at least 4,000 beds short for next winter and are pushing for fresh funding this year to help plug the deficit, HSJ understands.

HSJ has been told the funding plea is being made as part of discussions with ministers about the new long term funding deal, with an announcement expected later this year.

A cash boost would mark a significant policy change, after the NHS England planning guidance published in February said “there will be no additional winter funding in 2018-19”.

But it would not be the first time this has happened in recent winters, many of which have featured unscheduled funding injections largely aimed at trying to address deteriorating four hour waiting times performance.

One senior source told HSJ the 4,000 figure was at the “low end” of estimates of what the system needs to return to meet the four hour waiting time and the 92 per cent bed occupancy targets.