District hospitals’ 64 days with no free beds

Bradford district's hospitals short of intensive care beds 64 times this winter so far

Bradford district's hospitals short of intensive care beds 64 times this winter so far

First published in Local news Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

The district’s hospitals have run out of intensive-care beds on 64 occasions this winter, figures reveal.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust reported it had no spare beds for critically ill patients on 45 separate days between November 4 last year and last Wednesday – the joint-sixth highest figure in England.

And Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has done the same on 19 days over the same period.

Labour, which uncovered the figures, accused the Government of overseeing a “growing crisis in emergency care”.

Andy Burnham, the party’s health spokesman, said: “This is a clear sign of a system in distress and a crisis in emergency care that is getting more serious by the day.

“Ministers must provide an urgent reassurance to patients and the public that there are sufficient critical-care beds in place, in all parts of the country, to cope with pressure throughout the rest of this winter.” Labour calculated the number of “lost days” at each hospital from department of health statistics.

Keighley’s Labour parliamentary candidate John Grogan said the Airedale Trust had run out of spare critical-care beds on all but five days since the beginning of 2014 and that on those five days it had been left with one spare bed.

He said that in November and December, 470 urgent operations were cancelled nationally, to help struggling hospitals cope.

He said: “I am horrified by these figures, which reveal an NHS so under pressure and under-resourced that there’s a real risk it won’t even be able to treat the most seriously ill patients.

“Airedale Hospital is running at its absolute capacity – I don’t wish to imagine what would happen if they had to deal with a major incident.”

Stacey Hunter, director of operations at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “While our critical-care beds are frequently busy during winter, we are managing this as part of our winter pressures and have not needed to transfer any critical-care patients to other hospitals for their care.

“I would like to thank our staff for their hard work this winter, on behalf of our patients, and reassure our local community that should we have a major incident we have plans in place to enable us to create additional critical-care capacity.”

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer, Helen Barker, said: “In line with hospitals throughout the country we have experienced high demand for our critical-care beds – a routine challenge for us all during the winter months.

“We would like to assure patients we have contingency plans in place to ensure that we provide appropriate support for acutely ill patients.”

The highest number was at University Hospitals Birmingham, which ran out of beds on 66 occasions. More than 50 hospitals reported five or fewer “lost days”.

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