Wards over ‘safe’ capacity in summer
HOSPITAL wards in Stockport exceeded their safe capacity between July and September – and the problem is set to increase.
The summer heatwave put more strain than usual on hospitals, and NHS Providers, which represents all trusts, warned patient numbers would probably rise in winter.
Figures from NHS England shows that, on average, 578 out of 666 beds in Stockport NHS Foundation Trust were occupied during the period, or 87 per cent, above the threshold of 85pc when patient safety is considered to be compromised. Five years earlier, bed occupancy reached just 79pc.
A spokesman for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are aware our bed occupancy rates are very high. A great proportion of our patients are frail and elderly, with complex conditions that require a lot of medical attention and a longer stay in hospital. This puts bed numbers under pressure.
“We are working to tackle this problem. We now have an integrated team at the hospital, where health and social care staff work together to help ensure patients don’t stay in a hospital bed longer than they need.
“We are working with social care, primary care and GPs to ensure that we can safely discharge people who are well enough without unnecessary delays.
“We support the Home First initiative, assessing people for care at home, which helps their mobility and independence. We have also improved supported discharge for stroke and hip fracture patients, and are working with our partners to provide enhanced services closer to home to reduce the number of people needing emergency care.”
NHS England’s figures may in fact underestimate the crowding problem, because the count is taken at midnight, which is not a hospital’s busiest time.
The data covers patients under a consultant’s care, but excludes critical care cases and those being attended by nurse. Babies’ cots are also excluded.
Most of the beds in the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust were reserved for patients with general and acute illnesses, such as pneumonia or renal colic, and the rate of occupancy for this was 89pc.
Amber Jabbal, head of policy at NHS Providers, said: “Bed occupancy levels have remained high and this year’s heatwave played a part in this, with increased emergency demand.
“This spike in demand has left services ‘running hot’ even before the winter months have started.”