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Latest bed occupancy figures do not represent the current situation in hospitals

19 November 2020

Responding to the publication of available and occupied beds in England for quarter 2 of 2020/20, President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:

“While there are fractionally more beds in the system in Q2 of 2020/21, the occupancy figures published today do represent what the situation is currently like in covid hotspots and in no way reflects the reality of what our hospitals face. Members from across the country are telling us that their hospitals are near or at capacity.

“These numbers cannot show what it is presently like on the ground. They cover the summer period when we would expect occupancy to be lower, and are also measured at midnight which in itself does not necessarily present the whole picture.

“The recorded occupancy levels also may not take into account covid wards or sites. If a ward dedicated to covid patients has six beds but only one patient is in that ward, those beds cannot be used for other patients. This may be skewing the overall occupancy figures, and we believe that what has been reported is likely to be an under-representation of the actual figures.

“Our Emergency Departments are currently experiencing dangerous crowding again – putting patients at further risk of covid infection – with patients waiting on trollies in corridors, and ambulances unable to offload patients. This is happening because EDs cannot admit patients into an available bed in the hospital. We need more staffed beds to get to grips with crowding long-term, and not just during covid.”

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