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10,000 bed deficit in England’s major hospitals 

Thursday 7 March

Planned funding allocation for healthcare is ‘a drop in a bucket’ says RCEM.  

New data released today by NHS England covering 26 February – 3 March reveal major hospitals in England were 93.4% full.  

An additional 10,022 beds would have been required to bring bed occupancy down to levels considered “safe” (85%.)  

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: “This puts yesterday’s budget into sharp perspective. 

“Significant and substantial funding is required now so that hospitals can be considered ‘safe’. There’s nowhere to put patients who need admitted now and patients who should be discharged to allow the system to breath. 

“Meanwhile frontline staff are firefighting every day to find a way through. They should not be expected to carry this burden – it is unfair and unjust. 

“Allocating £2.5 billion to the NHS in England is a ‘drop in a bucket’. It will take a lot more to support the NHS to continue to improve performance and reduce waiting times. 

“Our manifesto to #RescucitateEmergencyCare sets out clearly what is needed and why. Action needs to happen now before hospitals reach full capacity.” 

The data also showed:  

  • More than half of patients who no longer met the criteria to reside remained in hospital (56.4%).  
  • The average number of beds occupied by flu patients is 216% higher than week 16 last year.  
  • There was a weekly total of 19 instances during the week where patients were diverted.  
  • The average daily number of absences in acute trusts was 45,629. This is 2,727 fewer than week 16 in 2022/23  
  • There was a daily average of 13,252 ambulance handovers (arrivals) by ambulance, a weekly total of 92,763.  
  • National guidance states that patients arriving at an ED by ambulance must be handed over to the ED within 15 minutes. In week 16, only 39% of handovers met this guidance.   
  • A total of 13,881 hours were lost to delays over 30 minutes, equivalent to nearly 82 weeks’ worth of time in just one week.  
  • The daily average number of beds occupied by flu patients was 1,254, a decrease of 482 patients compared with last week (1736) but an increase of 857 compared with the same week last year (397). This is an increase of 216% on week 16 last year.  

Graphs illustrating the data can be found here.   


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