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NHS performance figures improve

BMA says pressure has eased but bed occupancy is still at 'unsafe' levels.

Mark Gould

Friday, 16 February 2018

Doctors leaders say new performance figures published by NHS England appear to show that pressure is easing on bed occupancy. But they warn that it is still at ‘unsafe levels’.

Data from the end of November to 11 February showed bed occupancy rates of 85.5% for acute care beds. Average occupancy rates for the previous quarter for general and acute care beds stood at 88.9%.

Commenting on the England figures Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA's council chair, said that there was still much for the government to do in spite of measures to ease the winter crisis including cancelling elective surgery throughout January and injecting cash into areas where delayed discharge from hospital was most acute.

Dr Nagpaul said that while the pressure appears to be easing, "The crisis is far from over as bed occupancy remains worrying high, particularly for long-stay patients".

He said that this was of particular concern as it means the NHS system is ‘extremely congested’, making it difficult for hospitals to find beds for those who need to be admitted.

"Bed occupancy levels above 85 per cent are also considered to be unsafe, increasing the risk of cross infection between patients.

“The reality is that we now have a consistently overstretched health service, running without the capacity to meet demand all year-round. Doctors have real concerns about the quality and timeliness of care the NHS can deliver when services are under such pressure."

He concluded: “Politicians must address the simple fact that if the NHS is to keep up with rising demand it requires a sustainable funding plan to provide the extra beds, staff and services patients need.”

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