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Overnight bed occupancy hits highest ever level

The latest data from National Health Service (NHS) revealed that hospitals bed occupancy rates have hit a record high. The data shows more than 91 per cent of overnight hospital (‘general and acute’) beds were full in the first three months of 2017 – putting sick Brits at risk. This is the highest rate since the record began in June 2000.

Health experts said the NHS was under ‘extraordinary pressure’ and in the grip of a year-long crisis. They advise that the occupancy levels should be 85 per cent although this has become increasingly difficult to attain. The research has consistently shown that when hospitals are overcrowded, patients are at much higher risk of infection and poor care.

The highest occupancy rates were at Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals Trust in Essex and Milton Keynes University Hospital Trust in Buckinghamshire, which were both at 99 per cent.

A separate research by the British Medical Association (BMA) concluded that hospitals were failing to recover from the intense pressures experienced over the winter.

The President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Miss Clare Marx said that the new findings are exceptionally worrying and indicate that reductions in hospital bed numbers over recent years may have gone too far.

The data describe why more operations are being cancelled and why waiting times are increasing. It also shows why sometimes surgeons are effectively left kicking their heels; a lack of beds can mean they can’t do operations they had planned, she added.

The chair of the BMA, Dr Mark Porter said that the patients are facing unacceptably long waits. The latest findings show that hospitals have just endured one of the worst winters on record, with patients facing long waits for treatment.

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