This year’s winter crisis has already begun as hospital beds are filling up and thousands of people face long waits in A&E departments across England.
Figures released today by the NHS show things look worse than last year, which then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the ‘worst ever winter’.
Experts and senior politicians warn things will deteriorate over the period as the NHS faces up to its toughest winter yet ahead of a flu season and icy weather warnings.
In a series of damning reports, official figures revealed:
- One in 10 hospitals didn’t have a single bed free on at least one night last week
- The average bed capacity across hospitals is England is 94 per cent – way above the 85 per cent safe level
- Nearly 55,000 people were left waiting on trolleys in A&E for more than four hours in November.Of those patients, 258 were kept waiting for at least 12 hours
- One in 12 ambulances were kept waiting outside A&E for half an hour or more because there was no space inside for their patients
- Ambulances were turned away from overloaded hospitals 25 times last week and sent to nearby units
The number of A&E patients left waiting around for more than four hours after being told they would be moved to a hospital bed was 54,631 last month – the highest it has been since comparable data began in 2010
One in 10 hospital trusts in England had at least one night last week when they had no beds available for new patients.Two – Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen, and allone88 London North West – were 100 per cent full all week, according to NHS data
NHS England and NHS Digital released the first of their winter situation reports today, prompting fears of another devastating season from health experts.
Figures covering the first week of December showed 14 out of 134 major hospital trusts spent at least one night with 100 per cent of their beds occupied.
Hospitals should have 15 per cent of their beds free at any time for the NHS to operate safely, but nationally this figure is 5.9 per cent.
And cracks are beginning to show in A&E departments, which bear the brunt of huge numbers of patients flooding in in the colder months.
A total of 54,631 people were left waiting for more than four hours for a bed in November after doctors decided to keep them in hospital – 12 per cent higher than last year.
A&E figures for November also showed 258 people waited more than 12 hours to be treated, more than double the number for November 2017.
The NHS target is to see 95 per cent of all A&E patients within four hours, but this figure was only 87.6 per cent in November – the lowest level since March.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS health" data-version="2" id="mol-036e2020-fed8-11e8-a30e-fb2a753a8614" website crisis is ALREADY worse than last year's 'worst ever winter'