NHS is facing ‘winter in spring’ beds crisis as less than 6% of general or acute hospital places are free across the country… the lowest number since start of Covid pandemic
- Hospitals are facing the lowest level of bed vacancies since Covid started
- Under 5,000 general beds in the NHS were unoccupied as of April 12
- It comes as the NHS faces a ‘winter in spring’ crisis of overwhelming demand
Hospitals are facing a ‘winter in spring’ crisis, with the lowest level of unoccupied beds since Covid struck.
In the week ending April 12, 4,933 adult general or acute hospital beds were free across England on average – representing just 5.4 per cent of the total available.
This is the lowest level recorded since the start of the pandemic, according to analysis by the Financial Times.
In the week ending April 12, 4,933 adult general or acute hospital beds were free across England on average – representing just 5.4 per cent of the total available
Meanwhile, volunteers are set to drive patients to hospital in ambulance cars following 999 calls in a bid to relieve pressure on ambulances.
Under the scheme, given £100,000 in funding by NHS England and expected to launch in May, the trained volunteers would be sent out in response to some lower category calls to London Ambulance Service.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospitals work ‘most efficiently and safely’ when their bed occupancy is around 85 to 90 per cent, but many have been far above that for weeks on end.
He said: ‘All the evidence shows the NHS is seeing the kind of pressure we normally see in January. The NHS is facing a winter crisis in the spring.’
NHS staff say they are battling a record backlog of patients together with staff sickness and infections caused by the Omicron variant.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, warned: ‘Patients are likely to have to wait longer in A&E departments and should also expect that planned operations might have to be cancelled at short notice.’
Mr Hopson has revealed that there are more bed-blockers than Covid patients. There are 20,000 patients in England who are ready to be discharged but have nowhere to go.
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