Hospital bed squeeze is being miscounted and causing congestion

11 October 2016 - The Nuffield Trust


With performance falling below targets and winter approaching, a Nuffield Trust briefing today warns the NHS can no longer find enough bed space to move patients through hospitals quickly and meet key A&E targets – and that its practice of counting patients at midnight means we are missing the true scale of the squeeze.

Understanding patient flow in hospitals, a briefing for NHS managers, estimates that 5.5% of beds need to be free for cleaning and preparation if patients are to be moved through quickly enough to meet the high-profile commitment to admit or transfer emergency patients within four hours. Yet many hospitals are unable to provide this much of the time, making target breaches inevitable. With a growing number of patients coming and going during the day, counting bed occupancy at midnight means that crunch times are often invisible.

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NHS trusts overshoot maximum annual deficit in just six months

Regulator says English trusts set for £648m first-half deficit after £580m was forecast as most that could be overspent this year

NHS trusts in England have overshot their maximum deficit permissible for the financial year after just six months despite a £900m emergency cash injection from the government.

NHS Improvement (NHSI) said financial performance information from providers show they are on track to record a year-to-date deficit of £648m in the first half of the year.

The financial regulator described the figures, published on Friday [18th November], as “just £22m worse than planned” but they are some way off what health leaders have defined as an acceptable overspend for 2016-17, even by the most generous interpretation.

NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, have pledged to ensure that trusts end the year no more than £250m in the red, while other NHS leaders have said the service can afford to record a figure of £580m without risking major financial problems.

Trusts are forecasting a deficit of £669m for the year, although that is after the £1.8bn sustainability and transformation funding, £900m of which was paid out in the first six months.

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NHS hospitals suffer from chronic bed shortage, surgeons say

Royal College of Surgeons calls for rethink after figures show 89% of beds are full overnight for fourth quarter in a row

The Royal College of Surgeons has warned of a chronic shortage of NHS hospital beds in England, after occupancy rates for overnight stays topped 89% for a fourth successive quarter.

The maximum occupancy rate for ensuring patients are well looked after and not exposed to health risks is considered to be 85%, a figure that has not been achieved since NHS England began publishing statistics in 2010.

From July to September this year the percentage of beds occupied in wards open overnight was 89.1%, compared with 87% in the same period last year. That was the last time it was below 89%.

The RCS said the figures, published on Thursday, made for alarming reading and indicated a failure to cope with the increasing number of older patients in hospital.

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Half of London's doctors haven't heard of STPs, BMA survey finds

 BMA press release, 01 November 2016

More than half of doctors in London have not heard of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) due to be published by the end of this year, a BMA survey shows.

Of the 615 consultants and GPs surveyed, a majority (59 per cent)  said they had not heard of STPs - five year plans detailing how areas will work together to implement NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

The BMA asked GPs and consultants in London about their involvement in the creation of the four STPs footprints for the city, made up of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), local authorities, NHS trusts and other health and care organisations. 

When asked if doctors felt they could influence decisions made by their clinical commissioning group (CCG), more than four in five (82 per cent) said they did not feel they could, even though CCGs are membership organisations.

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