The Daily Torygraph @Telegraph: #NHS breaking point now ‘the norm’ as 15,000 beds are cut in six years

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Hospital ward
Bed numbers have dropped by a fifth since in ten years CREDIT: PETER BYRNE

Breaking point is becoming “the norm” for the NHS, with 15,000 beds cut from hospitals in the space of six years.

The fall amounts to one in ten beds being lost, and has prompted warnings about patient safety amid rising pressure on the health service.

The British Medical Association yesterday said that the decrease in beds was directly contributing to long waits in crowded A&E departments.

The warning comes after three quarters of hospitals last month reported dangerously high occupancy rates of 95 per cent, even though managers are told to aim for a rate of 85 per cent to leave a safe margin of beds to cope with surges of patient demand.

In the first quarter of 2010/11 there were 144,455 available beds, but in the same period in 2016/17 the figure was 130,774 – a fall of almost 9.5 per cent. The loss is comparable to 24 hospitals being closed down.

The UK already has the second lowest number of hospital beds per head in Europe per head and these figures paint an even bleaker picture of an NHS that is at breaking pointDr Mark Porter, BMA

And over 15 years, the number of available hospital beds falling by more than a third in 15 years, doctors’ leaders have warned.

The report also found pressure on mental health services is especially acute, with the number of beds nearly halving since 2000, causing an average of 726 patients a month to be treated in “out of area” units during the period March to October last year.

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