15 August 2023
The government’s announcement of £250m funding to support the delivery of 900 hospital beds before the New Year must be backed by the staffing arrangements to support them.
That is the response of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) to the news that the Department of Heath and Social care is to provide additional funding as part of its Urgency and Emergency Care Recovery Plan announced today (15 August 2023).
The money will be allocated across 30 NHS trusts in England and will also be used to develop or expand urgent treatment centres.
The government says these 900 beds – which are part its commitment to create an additional 5,000 beds announced in January 2023 – are expected to be available by January 2024.
Reacting, RCEM President Dr Adrian Boyle, said: “We support this announcement, and are pleased the government has listened to our call to increase bed capacity ahead of what will likely be a difficult winter.
“We are still some way off the target number of around 112,000 staffed general and acute beds which would be needed to get to a level of bed occupancy which is deemed to be ‘safe’ (85%).
“At the same time, a bed on its own is not enough. Workforce planning and boosting capacity must go hand-in-hand.
“There must be adequate numbers of the right staff to care for patients in these beds. Without this they will remain empty, and do absolutely nothing to alleviate pressures on the system.”
Currently the UK has the second lowest number of beds per 1,000 when compared to countries in the EU