William Eichler 24 June 2019

Thousands of overspill beds being used for routine care, report says

Thousands of overspill beds being used for routine care, report says image

Hospital beds that are supposed to be used only during emergencies and periods of high demand are being utilised for routine care, an investigation has revealed.

Freedom of Information requests to hospital trusts by the BMA has found that 3,428 escalation beds were in use across all 134 trusts at the end of winter, with 1,637 of these still in use by 1 May in 80 of the trusts.

‘Escalation beds’ are supposed to be reserved for emergencies and periods of high demand only.

‘The use of escalation beds is a sign that trusts are at a critical stage and are unable to cope with demand with their current bed stock,’ said BMA consultants committee chair Rob Harwood.

The BMA has previously said that an extra 10,000 beds need to be found if the health service is to be able to guarantee year-round safe care

‘Some hospitals are forced to designate their theatre recovery beds as “escalation”, resulting in elective surgical operations being cancelled as there is no space for those patients who need immediate care after their surgery,’ continued Mr Harwood.

‘I have heard of other cases where beds in day procedure units – surgical units for patients who can have their operation and return home on the same day – are used as escalation spaces for admitting patients for longer ward-style care, meaning healthcare staff cannot continue with routine day care surgical cases.

‘Most worryingly, the intense pressure on beds can result in patients being placed on beds in corridors or in bits of other facilities, sometimes cramping treatment areas and causing unacceptable stress to the patient and their families.

‘It is obvious in these circumstances that there are also not enough staff to cope with the number of people coming through the hospital’s doors.’

The BMA’s investigation also found that the highest use of escalation beds per trust was in the East Midlands, while London used the most escalation beds as a proportion of total beds.

‘It cannot be right that the NHS is having to use these measures almost permanently, especially when the BMA, other leading healthcare bodies and patient groups have offered solutions,’ Mr Harwood added.

Responding to the findings, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘The use of escalation beds is yet another sign that hospitals are struggling to cope under continued pressure. We know this is compromising patient care.

‘The Tories and, in Coalition, the Lib Dems have run down the NHS and imposed the biggest funding squeeze in its history.

‘Ministers should be ashamed that years of cuts to beds, to social care and to funding have led to some of the worst bed occupancy rates in hospitals.’

Let’s tell a new story image

Let’s tell a new story

Graham Allen says a focus on social care being solely about getting people out of hospital only diverts attention from keeping as many people as possible away from unnecessary admission.
Revolutionising mental health image

Revolutionising mental health

Cllr Jasmine Ali explains how Southwark Council is putting plans into action to revolutionise children’s mental health in Southwark.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duty Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,554 - £21,166
The successful candidate will work across a rota pattern that includes regular evening and weekend working and will be responsible for... Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Business Support Officer - Learning and Early Support

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Duties will include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Plant and Motor Vehicle Technician - 3 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
You will carry out vehicle inspections, servicing, maintenance and repairs to vehicles and plants operated by Kirklees Council in... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Early Help Projects' Coordinator

Brent Council
£33,291 - £35,724 p.a. inc.
An exciting opportunity to be an Early Help Projects' Co-ordinator. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue