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'Overcrowding' concerns in Welsh hospitals

9th June 2011

New figures have suggested that some Welsh hospitals have become routinely overcrowded.

And high bed occupancy rates have led to concerns about patient safety and operations being cancelled.

In some cases the monthly average occupancy rates for acute hospital beds was as high as 100%, whereas the Royal College of Surgeons believes the maximum occupancy should be no more than 82%.

Bed occupancy rate figures in Wales reveal that in 2010, Cardiff's University Hospital operated at an acute bed occupancy rate of 92-94%, while Llandough Hospital had an acute occupancy rate of 100% for three separate months of the year.

Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport acute occupancy rate exceeded 90% for 10 out of 12 months in 2010, while the average rate for the West Wales General in Carmarthen and Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli was 87%.

Dr Sharon Blackford, chair of the British Medical Association’s Welsh consultants committee, said: “It has got to the stage where we are at breaking point really, it is definitely having an effect on day-to-day running of wards.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also raised fears over the pressure the rates of bed occupancy are placing on staff.

It wants to see the introduction of a maximum bed occupancy target of around 82%.

The Welsh Government said there was no official target for bed occupancy in hospitals.

A spokesman said various factors affected levels of bed occupancy and it was not in favour of a one-size-fits-all approach. It expected health boards to manage bed occupancy "at safe and efficient levels".

 

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