Unprecedented winter bed pressure revealed in new stats

Acute bed occupancy hit a record high in the final quarter of 2016-17, while a long-term reduction in the number of acute beds may be slowing.

NHS England bed occupancy data for January to March 2017 reveals 91.4 per cent of overnight hospital general and acute beds were full during the period compared to 91 per cent in the same period the previous financial year. When records began in 2000-01 overnight acute bed occupancy averaged 84.7 per cent (see table 1).

Two trusts, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Weston Area Health recorded acute bed occupancy of 100 per cent, while a further 38 trusts recorded acute bed occupancy as over 95 per cent (see table 2).

Some 150 of the 179 trusts with acute beds recorded acute bed occupancy of 85 per cent or more – the target which clinicians and health experts use as the benchmark over which patient safety is put at risk.

There was huge pressure on emergency care in parts of winter – particularly the very end of 2016 and the early part of 2017 – with very long waits already reported.

Full story in The HSJ, 25 May 2017