Hospital bed occupancy across Portsmouth area dropped during coronavirus outbreak

THE NUMBER of occupied beds dropped at hospitals across the Portsmouth area during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sunday, 30th August 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 30th August 2020, 1:17 pm

Figures show that the number of overnight stays at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust between April and June dropped by more than a third compared the first three months of the year.

NHS data recorded 659 overnight stays down from 966 between January and March.

Solent NHS Trust showed a 38 per cent decrease in bed occupancy while Southern Health NHS Trust saw a drop of 17 per cent.

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The decrease in bed occupancy was partly down to hospitals across the country discharging patients and cancelling planned treatment to free up capacity to deal with Covid-19, according to medical experts.

Concerns have since been raised about the potential impact on patients who put off seeking help due to fear of catching the virus.

Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: ‘This was the well-documented move by people in general to avoid coming to hospitals at all costs, often to their detriment.’

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust think tank, said the drop in numbers could also be driven by fewer people needing emergency care due to lockdown restrictions.

She added: ‘We will see bed occupancy begin to creep back up, but it will take time as the NHS is slowed down by Covid-secure and infection control measures to protect both patients and staff.’

In Portsmouth Hospitals Trust and Solent NHS Trust, the number of available beds didn't change over the period, standing at 1,044 and 134 respectively, between April and June.

The number of available beds at Southern Health Trust dropped from 605 between January and March to 598 between April and June.

Across England, the number fell by 8 per cent to around 118,500.

Dr Scriven said the drop could be down to staff sickness levels meaning beds had to be closed and staff being redeployed.

He added that social distancing measures, restricting space for beds, would be ‘a major worry’ if hospital admissions increase in autumn.

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