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Hospital Beds Numbers Down 20% in a Decade

The British Medical Association has warned that NHS hospital beds numbers have plunged by 20 per cent over the past decade and left the health service at “breaking point”.

A new BMA report “State of the health system, Beds in the NHS: England” reveals that the number of overnight beds in England hospitals fell by a fifth between 2006/7 and 2015/16.

Here are listed some findings from the BMA’s new report:

  • In the first week of January 2017 nearly three quarters of trusts had an occupancy rate of 95 per cent on at least one day of that week.
  • The number of hospital beds per head has fallen, at a time when demand on NHS services has increased.
  • In 2000, there were an average of 3.8 beds per 1,000 people. By 2015, this dropped to 2.4 beds.
  • In November 2016, 15 per cent of patients i.e. almost one in seven had spent more than four hours waiting for a hospital bed.
  • There has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of mental health beds since 2000/01.

The chair of BMA council, Dr Mark Porter said that the high bed occupancy is an indication of wider pressure and demand on an overloaded and underfunded system. It causes delays in admissions, operations being cancelled and patients being unfairly and sometimes repeatedly let down.

A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said that in this winter the NHS has been under real pressure, as it copes with demand for emergency services the knock-on effects are felt in the NHS hospitals.

NHS Improvement is working tirelessly alongside providers to help NHS hospitals manage and to support more efficient use of the number of beds available, spokeswoman added.

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