Sep 24, 2023

New NHS figures show high demand for Bradford district hospital beds

NEW figures show a continued "high demand" for hospital beds in the first three months of the year at two hospitals in the Bradford district.

New figures from NHS England show 85.7 per-cent of 698 overnight beds were occupied at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the three months to March. This was a rise from 83.9 per-cent during the same period a year before.

At Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, 85.5 per-cent of 408 overnight beds were occupied in the three months to March. This was a rise from 77.4 per-cent during the same period a year before.

Two Bradford district hospital trusts say the figures for both of these hospitals reflect bed occupancy for all overnight beds, including maternity beds, in addition to general and acute beds.

An Airedale spokesperson, however, called the figures inaccurate, and pointed out that their figures are 82.8 per-cent and 89.7 per-cent for 2022 and 2023, and their core bed number is 342 for 2022 and 348 for 2023.

Leanne Cooper, Chief Operating Officer at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our bed occupancy rates reflect the continued high demand for our urgent and emergency care services which has increasingly become a pressure all year round but is at its most challenging during the winter period, when acuity rises and patients stay longer in hospital.

"We are seeing more patients who are more seriously unwell, or whose condition is complex, and so need care from a number of different healthcare professionals or specialties.

"We continue to work with system partners to improve access times for patients needing urgent and emergency care with specific focus on increasing capacity to deal with current pressures, growing our workforce, speeding up discharge from hospital to reduce our occupancy levels and expanding community services, including virtual ward initiatives to help people access the right care at the right time."

Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Saj Azeb, said: "Our general and acute bed occupancy was lower in the first three months of this year (91.82 per-cent) compared to the same period in 2022 (93.08 per-cent).

"As a result of national funding we have been able to open additional general and acute beds which has allowed us to keep average bed occupancy below 92 per-cent.

"Good patient flow through our hospitals is key to caring for our patients in a timely way.

"We have achieved and continue to maintain this by forward planning, preventing avoidable admissions, freeing up beds by working to discharge people as soon as they are medically fit, and working closely with community and social care colleagues for patients who need further support once they leave hospital."

Across England, occupancy rates rose again in the last quarter, reaching 89.8 per-cent – just shy of the record of 90 per-cent in March 2018.

For general and acute settings, this figure was 92.3 per-cent – also the highest rate since the pandemic began.