Screwed NHS more screwed: Tory bed cuts cause chaos

“The NHS needs thousands of extra beds to prevent patients being subjected to “corridor care” this winter, doctors have said.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) analysed NHS data and found that 4,000 to 6,000 extra beds were needed to “keep emergency departments moving” by ensuring that patients could be accommodated.

Katherine Henderson, president of the college, said: “Our number one priority is to put an end to ‘corridor care’ this winter. To do this we will need at least 4,000 extra staffed beds.

“Emergency departments aim to have most patients treated and back home on the same day, but nearly a third of all patients who go to major A&Es needed to be admitted to a bed.

“A lack of beds means that many patients have to wait long times in undignified conditions, often on a trolley in a corridor. Last year nearly a third of a million people waited for over 12 hours. No patient should have to experience this for even a couple of hours, let alone for over half a day as some do.”

It is deemed unsafe if more than 85 per cent of available beds are occupied at any one time because this would leave hospitals unable to cope with surges in demand. Last winter occupancy rates hit an average of 93.5 per cent, Dr Henderson said, adding that more than 15,000 beds, or about one in ten, had been lost since 2010.

This summer was the worst ever in terms of the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours for a hospital bed, she said.

“This is a difficult position to be going into winter in. Without more beds, with appropriate nursing staffing, we fear we may be in for another record-breaking winter,” she added.

An NHS spokesman said: “The NHS will indeed be opening up thousands of beds over the next few months, based on the local availability of nurses and other staff. Hospitals will also be working closely with community health services and local authorities’ home care and care home services.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have invested £240 million in adult social care to ease pressures this winter by getting patients home quicker and freeing up hospital beds across England.”

Source:Times (paywall)