A recent report by NHS Providers uncovered fears that Britain could be hit by the worst flu strain in decades, with hospitals close to 99% full, far over the 85% limit previously anticipated.

Chief executives from hospitals across the UK have raised concerns patients could be harmed, and understaffed wards will be unable to cope with the influx of patients being admitted.

A chief executive of one Trust said: “We’re lucky to get below 99% bed occupancy rates. We plan for winter all year round, but there’s an underlying lack of beds and resources. There is a daily battle over where to care for patients who need to be admitted, due to the lack of beds.”

Last month the NHS admitted a £1 billion drive to free up to 3,000 hospital beds in England failed, adding to bed shortages.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS providers said: “The health service may be sorely tested in the coming months as it is already at, or close to, full stretch.”

He also said: “Whilst the government’s emergency funding of £337 million was welcome, it had come too late to make much difference.”

A spokesman for NHS Improvements, which regulates hospital performance, said. “The NHS is under great pressure, bed occupancy is very high in some areas and its staff are owed a huge thank you for working so hard for patients in these circumstances.”

 

Is your hospital suffering with bed shortages? What do you think can be done to ease winter pressures? Let us know your thoughts.

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