Bed occupancy levels highlight scale of pressure across the NHS
NHS England have published the latest bed occupancy data. The number of general and acute beds has increased by 1% on the previous quarter but remains 4% lower than pre-pandemic levels, with 4,567 fewer beds than in quarter one 2019/20.
In quarter one 2021/22, the bed occupancy rate was 83.8%, up from 80.9% in the previous quarter. However, the occupancy rate remains below pre-pandemic levels, down from 88.2% in quarter one 2019/20. Six trusts had an occupancy rate over 95%.
Commenting on the publication of bed occupancy data by NHS England, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said: "The hospital bed occupancy figures highlight the scale of current pressure across the whole health service. Evidence clearly shows that hospitals work most safely and effectively at bed occupancy levels no higher than 85%.
"It is therefore concerning that the figures show that 82 Trusts exceeded this over the last quarter with 35 of these Trusts experiencing bed occupancy levels above 90% and six reaching over 95%.
High bed occupancy levels have a direct impact on trusts' ability to provide safe and timely services for patients.
"Even though the number of beds available is slowly increasing, the NHS has lost over 4,500 general and acute beds, compared to before the pandemic, due to the need for stringent COVID-19 infection control measures. This is adding to the pressure.
"Treating patients quickly and effectively depends on having the right number of beds in the NHS. We need the NHS to be resourced properly which is why it's so important the NHS gets the immediate funding it needs for the second half of this financial year and in the upcoming comprehensive spending review."