Hospital working at full capacity on 42 nights during winter

PUBLISHED: 06:55 29 March 2019

Archant

Weston General Hospital was operating at full capacity on 42 nights between December and March – putting it in the top three in the country.

According to figures from NHS England, Croydon Health Services Trust was the worst affected, with 54 days at maximum capacity between December 3 and March 3.

London North West University Trust came second, with all beds full on 43 nights, followed by Weston Area Health Trust.

The British Medical Association (BMA) suggests occupancy should not exceed 85 per cent to avoid impacting on the quality of care.

High bed occupancy affects all hospital departments and can lead to planned operations being cancelled and delays moving patients from emergency departments to a ward.

According to a freedom of information (FOI) request, 29 elective procedures were cancelled in December 2018 – 14 of these were due to a lack of beds. In January 2019, 25 were cancelled, but only five of these were due to a shortage of beds.

Phil Walmsley, deputy chief executive at Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said staff expected to be full every day in winter and had plans in place so patient care was unaffected.

He said: “Winter is always busy for the NHS and for us here at Weston. During the winter months, we expect to have our hospital beds full every day and plan accordingly.

“To manage the anticipated extra demand, we opened a winter ward in December 2018. This has given us 25 extra beds to use every day on top of our establishment of 241. The additional beds are the reason we can have 100 per cent bed occupancy and still provide safe care.

“Due to good forward planning, and great work of all our staff, our A&E performance is much better than previously. In fact, a recent survey of A&E units found that Weston’s was the second most improved in the country.

“Although these bed capacity figures may seem dramatic, we’d like to reassure people the surge in demand is expected and planned for. It does, however, illustrate just how busy our staff are, and I’d like to thank them for their hard work.

“It’s also a good reminder to Mercury readers of the daily demands our staff expertly manage as part of their role of caring for them, and their loved ones, in Weston General Hospital.”

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