THE number of patients on hospital wards in England has been at unsafe levels at nine out of 10 NHS trusts this winter, BBC analysis shows.
To minimise the risk of infections and delays in getting treatment, hospitals are meant to have no more than 85% of beds occupied.
But the analysis showed 137 out of 152 hospital trusts have been above that level since the start of December.
One experienced hospital boss described some of the weeks this winter as the “worst” he had seen in his career.
The full BBC article can be found here
The 85% occupancy mark is an internationally recognised level that hospitals are advised to stick to in order to help them manage the risk of infections and to enable them to have the spare capacity to deal with major on-the-day emergencies.
137 out of 152 hospital trusts have been above this level
One of those was Basildon and Thurrock. Its interim managing director, Tom Abell, said it had been an “exceptionally busy” winter.
He said the bed shortage was also to do with the numbers coming into hospital as well as the problems discharging patients.
“Previously it would be unusual to see more than 350 people in our A&E in one day but this is now the norm. We’ve had several days where more than 450 people were treated.”
A spokesman for NHS England acknowledged the situation was impacting on the way hospitals were performing.
He said “the single most helpful change” would be to tackle the problem of delayed discharges, which is caused by a lack of available services in the community to take care of frail patients when their medical care had finished.
Without that support being provided – either from council care teams or district nursing – these patients cannot be discharged.