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Hospital bed occupancy rates remain ‘dangerously’ high 

Thursday 21 March

The immense pressures permeating though the health care system this winter are still apparent with hospitals in England remaining ‘dangerously’ full. 

New data released today by NHS England covering 11- 17 March reveals the total bed occupancy rate in hospitals across the country was 94.5% when the level considered ‘safe’ is 85%. 

The daily average number of general and acute beds occupied by flu patients increased by 233% compared with the same time last year adding to the pressures.  

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said: 

“Additional strain on the system at this time of year is to be expected. With adequate funding and a prioritisation on public health, it should be robust enough to cope. It should be prepared for higher-than-normal flu admissions. 

“Bed occupancy rates have been consistently high and nearing capacity for some time, with no intervention in sight to improve the situation any time soon. 

“Infection control measures also impacts space and bed availability. Post-pandemic we should be in a better position than we are now to provide the standards that staff and patients rightly deserve. 

“More than 50% of patients who no longer need to be in hospital cannot be discharged due to insufficient social care.” 

The data also showed:  

  • A total of 24,273 hours were lost to delays over 30 minutes, which is over two and a half years’ worth of time in just one week. 
  • The daily average number of diverts in week 18 was five, which is the highest amount of diverts since week 4 2020/21. 
  • A daily average of 18,496 patients occupied a bed for 21 or more days. 
  • The daily average number of G&A beds occupied by flu patients was 1103, an increase of 233% on week 18 last year. 

Graphs illustrating the data can be found can be found here. 

RCEM continues to urge those in government to support its manifesto to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare which sets out what is needed and why.  


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