“Research highlights worrying need for hospital emergency beds”

Owl says: you could not make this up.

“Hospitals in England are relying on backup beds to carry out routine care, research has found.

Hospitals in England are relying on backup beds to carry out routine care, research has found.

Reliance on emergency beds suggests NHS trusts are at a “critical stage” and struggling to cope with demand, the British Medical Association has said.

The BMA submitted two waves of Freedom of Information requests to all 134 acute trusts in England in March and May 2019, which revealed the extent to which ‘escalation beds’ were being used routinely.

The first round of data received responses from 105 trusts showing that there were 3,428 escalation beds in operation.

In May, according to responses from 54 trusts, there were 1,637 instances of the these beds being used, though the BMA noted that due to a lower response rate, the real figure is likely to be higher.

The beds are only supposed to be used in emergencies and when there is a spike in demand.

Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “The use of escalation beds is a sign that trusts are at a critical stage and are unable to cope with demand with their current bed stock.

“Some hospitals are forced to designate their theatre recovery beds as ‘escalation’, resulting in elective surgical operation being cancelled as there is no space for those patients who need immediate care after their surgery.”

Harwood noted that the pressure on capacity can see patients placed on beds in corridors and overcrowding treatment areas.

The BMA said that while escalation beds were traditionally used mainly in the winter, this was no longer the case as the number used in the first week of April was comparable to those in early January. There was an average of 20 escalation beds used per trust in early April and the start of January.

A total of 3,000 extra beds are needed to stop routine use of escalation beds outside of winter, while up to 10,000 are needed to bring occupancy to safe levels, the BMA estimated.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, said: “The use of escalation beds is yet another sign that hospitals are struggling to cope under continued pressure. We know this is compromising patient care.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/06/research-highlights-worrying-need-hospital-emergency-beds

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