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NHS Scotland needs at least 320 extra beds this winter

5 November 2019

The NHS in Scotland will need at least 320 extra beds to prevent thousands of patients being treated in corridors this winter.

Analysis of Acute Hospital Activity and NHS Beds Information in Scotland by RCEM Scotland suggest that in order to keep bed occupancy at a safe level, and keep emergency departments moving, approximately 320 staffed beds will be needed.

The Vice President of RCEM Scotland, Dr David Chung said: “Since 2009/10 NHS Scotland has lost over 1000 staffed beds across all acute specialities, despite increases in Emergency Department admissions.”

“Based on the provisional figures released for 2018/2019, NHS Scotland needs at least 320 beds restored to avoid trolley waits this Winter. Increased provision in the Community and Primary Care could reduce the requirement for hospital beds, and RCEM Scottish Board would urge that such capacity is also provided at a level to meet the demand required.”

“Whilst the announcement of £10 million to support winter pressures is a positive step, temporary funding injected into the system at this point of the year will make it difficult for Emergency Departments to respond to winter pressures. Planning for winter should be considered and funded earlier in the year.”

“This summer was challenging enough as we saw more and more people waiting on trolleys for very long periods of time. Data released today shows that only 87.6% of patients were seen within the four-hour target in September 2019 and the number of patients waiting twelve hours or more has increased by 59.4% since September 2018. We clearly do not have enough capacity to meet the increased demand and we risk compromising patient safety if this is not urgently addressed.”

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