Acute Trusts Report Winter Occupancy Levels Already Reached

Reports have indicated that bed occupancy in acute trusts has already raised winter levels.

The unusually high bed occupancy rates have left chief executives in acute trusts concerned with winter provisions.

Typically demand for beds in hospitals rises at this time of the year.

Senior figures in the acute service have already warned that existing occupancy levels are extremely serious.

Based on current reports from the acute trust, at least 50 patients every day have been admitted who are medically fit for discharge and consequently cannot be discharged.

Bosses have admitted that this is a massive problem, yes there is no evidence of the NHS making inroads into the issue.

And chief executives from acute trusts have stated that winter schemes have been running throughout the year without making an impression on the situation.

This is yet another indication that the NHS is struggling to cope with demand, and underlines many of the debates currently occurring with regard to the health service.

Some trusts have already had to open extra beds in order to cope with existing admission levels, indicating that they will potentially be massive problems during the winter period.

Existing levels of admissions are generally considered to be in line with December and January figures from previous years.

James Paget University Hospital Trust recently sent out a ‘black alert’ because all of its beds were full.

The picture across acute trusts in the NHS suggests that the recent plans of the Conservative government to switch to a seven-day culture in the health service could be under serious threat.

Indeed, it seems increasingly facile to assert that the health service is already struggling to deal with capacity simply related to its existing arrangements.

Meanwhile, the closure of care homes follows inspections by the Care Quality Commission, with more than one trust struggling to move patients out of hospital.

The overall picture is one of serious challenges for the NHS in dealing with the critical winter period.

Many acute trusts are already reporting occupancy of 99 per cent, meaning that the normal seasonal service that can be expected in winter will be extremely difficult to cope with.

The closure of services at various trusts, longer lengths of stay for those awaiting nursing homes and social care, combined with increasing complexity of diagnosis and treatment have all contributed to the existing situation.

With NHS services expected to run up deficits in the region of £2 billion by the end of the financial year, the lack of beds combined with serious fiscal difficulties will unquestionably be a massive problem for the health service in the immediate future.

The Conservative government has already conceded that there is a deficit of £30 billion in NHS funding that needs to be met by the end of the decade, but suggest that most of this can be achieved via efficiency savings.

Increasingly, this opinion looks to be ill-founded at best.


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