15:57 Thursday 06 February 2014

Fears are raised over bed stats at Queen's Hospital

Written byMARK MCKAY

BED occupancy levels at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital appeared to be at bursting point last month, NHS figures reveal.

NHS figures show that all of Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s 316 core and escalation beds were occupied on no fewer than 14 days in January.

The figures show the average occupancy rate from the start of the month until January 29 to be about 99 per cent.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Burton Jon Wheale, who unearthed the figures, called for the ‘intolerable situation’ to be immediately addressed.

He said: “This must be addressed now before the possibility of any sudden shocks to the system occurs.

“Queen’s core and escalation beds are full virtually all of the time, leaving little or no room for the spare capacity needed to guarantee a reliable service.

“I dread to think what it feels like for the doctors, nurses and managers having to operate the service under such immense pressure.”

The situation reports, which are available to view online, show all the trust’s core and escalation beds were occupied from January 2 to January 7.

The situation appeared to ease slightly after January 15.

But Mr Wheale added that he thought more beds and more staff needed to be provided to relieve the pressure.

He said: “What happens when the hospital is full? Where do they go?”

Mark Powell, director of operations for Queen’s Hospital said assessment trolleys and specialist acute beds are also available, but were not included in the figures.

He said: “At the moment hospitals across the country are experiencing extremely high demand due to winter pressures.

“The trust has prepared for the increase in demand over the winter period so that we can respond effectively and ensure patients are safe at all times.”

Mr Powell said that the trust’s occupancy level had averaged less than 90 per cent this winter – lower than last year’s rate of 95 per cent.

He added that the hospital’s Acute Assessment Centre had also eased strain caused by demand for emergency care.

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