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Hospital trust came ‘dangerously close’ to running out of beds during Christmas

PUBLISHED: 14:20 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 05 January 2018

Queen's and King George Hospital are both run by the trust. Picture credit: Archant.

Queen's and King George Hospital are both run by the trust. Picture credit: Archant.

Archant

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust came dangerously close to running out of beds over the Christmas period, new figures reveal.

On December 7 99.7 per cent of the trust’s 911 available beds were filled, meaning only three beds were available in the whole trust.

The average occupancy rate for general and acute beds throughout the period, which runs from November 20 to the end of December, was 96.9 pc.

On December 15 occupancy levels dropped to 85.6 pc — the lowest level at any point during the month — but this is still above the NHS’s own 85 pc recommended maximum occupancy rate.

Additionally ambulances carrying patients were regularly being held outside in bays outside the hospital while a bed space was found inside, sometimes for longer than an hour.

Matthew Hopkins, the trust’s chief executive, said they are “still seeing lots of patients coming to our emergency departments who do not need urgent hospital treatment.”

“Nevertheless, any delay to patients is regrettable and we apologise to any patients kept waiting.

“Like all hospitals across the country, we are exceptionally busy at the moment.”

The occupancy rate for adult critical care was slightly better - the period’s average was 78.3 pc.

Theresa May has been forced to apologise to NHS patients for the ‘winter crisis,’ calling the situation “frustrating” and “disappointing.”

Bernell Bussue, Royal College of Nursing regional director, said: “These figures show a system at breaking point, with wards full to bursting, patients waiting outside hospitals in the back of ambulances and even critical care wards and children’s intensive care units going through days with no spare beds.

“Nursing staff are working harder than ever to care for patients but they are being denied the resources they need whilst record numbers of nursing posts lay vacant.”

Responsibility lies “squarely at the feet of the government,” he adds.

Some trusts, such as North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, were consistently operating at an occupancy rate of 100 pc, with patients being diverted elsewhere for care.

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