As winter occupancy problems grow for the NHS, official statistics indicate that 12 hospitals in the health service face serious difficulties.
According to reports, these dozen institutions are so full that there was not a single bed available at any of the hospitals.
Commenting on the reports, the Labour Opposition has suggested that the figures are indicative of a health service under unprecedented and intolerable pressure.
Other hospitals have been badly hit by bouts of norovirus. The worst affected trust was the Royal United hospital Bath NHS foundation trust, which had 169 beds closed on Monday last week as a result.
Figures acquired by NHS in England indicate that hospitals in Cheshire, Norfolk, Essex, London, Devon and Wiltshire all completely ran out of beds last weekend.
In addition, there were less than 10 beds free in a further 27 NHS trusts over the same period.
Commenting on this is grave ituation, Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, was critical of government policy.
“These figures show an NHS under deep pressure with hospitals facing unprecedented levels of demand. Twelve hospital trusts in England did not have a single spare bed available last weekend, and many more were dangerously full.”
The statistics follow figures showing that levels of “bedblocking” in the NHS reached a record high long before winter was underway.
And the NHS is also facing problems related to meeting targets for seeing patients in a satisfactory timeframe.
Just 92.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in October – the lowest on record for this month, compared with 93.7 per cent this time last year.
All available evidence seems to point to the fact that the NHS is struggling logistically to deal with the demands of winter.
This meshed with the opinion of Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards, who predicted that this winter hospitals were going to find it “even more difficult to cope” unless the health service invested in intermediate care beds to get patients out of hospital.
There were 1,923,326 attendances at A&E in October – the highest number for the month since current records began in 2010.
This figure is 1.6 per cent more than October last year.
An NHS England spokesperson commented on the situation.
“Nobody could argue there isn’t ongoing pressure on the NHS. Despite this our staff continue to provide quality services in the face of increasingly high levels of demand throughout the healthcare system. Front line services are treating record numbers of patients. We continue to admit or treat and discharge more than nine out of ten patients within four hours – a higher standard than any major western nation.”