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Hospital Beds Crisis Puts Lives at Risk, Top Surgeons Say

The chronic shortage of NHS hospital beds in England has put patient’s lives at risk, senior surgeons have said. The failure to discharge patients is usually due to a lack of proper social care, which means increasing number of aged people remain in hospital needlessly after treatment.

On 24th November 2016, National Health Service (NHS) published an official figure, which reveal 89% of hospital beds were occupied overnight from July to September. In 2015, it was 87 % in the same period.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said the NHS figure has indicated a failure to cope with the rising number of older patients in hospital. The College has warned that hospitals with an occupancy rate over 85% are at increased risk of periodic bed crises and an increase in potentially deadly infections such as the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bug.

The vice-president of the RCS and a Consultant Urological Surgeon, Ian Eardley said the NHS has been able to decrease bed numbers as medical advances mean more modern surgery can take place without an overnight stay. But, these figures show bed cuts have currently gone too far in the absence of sufficient social care or community care alternatives.

The situation is set to get worse, with more beds expected to remove under the NHS England sustainability and transformation plans which was designed to improve NHS services and ensure their viability. Planned cuts include 400 in each Devon and Yorkshire, 535 beds in Derbyshire and nearly 30% of all hospital beds in North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The charity Director of Age UK’s, Caroline Abrahams said the professional consent, based on experience across the country, is that the shortage of social care for aged people is a big part of the problem. This is what Age UK hears from elder people and families too, through their advice line and local Age UKs too.

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