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Is fall in number of hospital beds contributing to patient deaths?

Author: Laura Farrell

Leading statistician, Professor Sir Brian Jarmans’ recent study shows that hospital occupancy levels have risen to higher than 89% and that they have not dropped below the government recommended level of 85% since 2002.

The situation has been commented on by David Bowles, a former NHS Trust Chief Executive, who claims that the safety of thousands of patients is being jeopardised by hospitals who are failing to admit them because they are struggling to cope.

It is somewhat shocking to find that in the last 30 years hospital beds have more than halved from 297,364 in 1987 – 1988 to 130,404 today.  This situation is compounded by the fact that since the 1980s hospital admissions have doubled to more than 16 million.  Professor Jarman said recently “the factor that is most important in being most strongly associated with the variation of the death rates in hospitals in England, is that the more doctors per bed, that’s either junior doctors, senior doctors or total doctors per bed – is associated with lower adjusted death rate in hospital.”

It is the work of Professor Jarman which was central to exposing the extremely poor standard by the NHS in Mid-Staffordshire in 2013.

Hospital admission is a very important issue.  Patients need to be confident that, when necessary, they will be admitted to hospital and not denied vital treatment due to a lack of beds.  It is also important that hospitals have the bed space and other resources in order to be able to admit patients to the correct wards which are best suited to deal with their condition.  Arguably this will allow staff who are specifically trained in a particular condition to spot any complications and could help prevent the spread of infection.

If you are of the view that you have received incorrect medical treatment or been denied treatment due to a lack of bed space then contact Atherton Godfrey Solicitors today.  We will listen to your concerns and may be able to act for you on a no win no fee basis.