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RCEM Scotland Vice President: “Emergency Departments are stretched to the limit because bed numbers have been slashed year-on-year”

10 September 2019

Annual acute bed occupancy figures released today by the Scottish Government shows reduced bed capacity for hospitals.

Data released today shows that the average number of available beds for acute specialities in 2018/2019 stood at 13,105. This represents a decrease of 2.0 percentage points on 2017/2018 and a 6.0 percentage point reduction when compared to 2013/2014. In 2018/2019, bed occupancy for acute specialities in Scotland stood at 87.1%, representing a decrease of 0.4 percentage point increase from the previous year. Last time NHS Scotland met the 85% occupancy level for acute specialities was 2011/2012.

Dr David Chung, Vice President of RCEM Scotland said: “Today’s data confirms what Emergency Departments staff have known for a long time: capacity in hospitals across Scotland is declining. “Every day we see more and more patients in Emergency Departments who wait a very a long time to be admitted to a hospital bed. Emergency Departments are stretched to the limit because bed numbers have been slashed year-on-year.

“There is a reason why we advocate for an 85% threshold in hospitals, it provides the system with additional capacity to cope with changes in demand. Anything above this clogs up the system and compromises patient safety.

“Clearly the health and social care system cannot cope with the current level of resource and capacity. An increase in the number of available staffed beds would go a long way to bring down bed occupancy to safe levels. However, this needs to go hand-in-hand with additional resource allocation to deal with rising demands on the NHS”.

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