Ipswich: Hospital bosses in pledge to reduce bed occupancy rates

HEALTH chiefs today pledged to reduce the numbers of beds occupied at Ipswich Hospital after new figures revealed that almost all beds were full last month – which was well above the “safe” limit.

A total of 94 per cent of beds at the Heath Road site were occupied last month – much higher than the 85 per cent occupancy rate which is regarded as necessary to give safe and good quality care to patients.

The hospital’s daily situation reports, which are submitted to the Department of Health, show that at times during November, the hospital’s general and acute beds were at full capacity. This is mirrored in the national picture, which also cites that 94pc of beds were occupied last month.

A recent report by Dr Foster, a healthcare information firm half-owned by the Department of Health, warned that occupancy, which often reaches 90pc, can be potentially “dangerous” to patients.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “We are working to improve the flow of patients both in and out of the hospital and if we can do that, bed occupancy rates will be reduced.”

On November 6, 501 of the hospital’s 532 beds were occupied, while on November 7, all the beds were occupied. On November 21, 520 of the hospital’s beds were occupied. In October, the hospital’s bed capacity figure was 93 per cent.

Hospital bosses have stressed bed occupancy is not just a hospital issue and they will work with health and social care providers in Suffolk, including social services and GPs, to look at bed availability in the community.

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The hospital spokeswoman added: “We also need help from patients and their families so when a patient is medically fit to go home, they can be discharged safely and the bed can be made available for our acutely ill patients.”

Health campaigner Prue Rush said: “As the community hospitals have been closed, the beds have disappeared. There is a lot of talk about care in the community but sometimes people need more specialist care.

“We have a lot more elderly people that need care but we have lost that interim help.”

Dr Dan Poulter, health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “I am pleased that under the new chief executive Nigel Beverley, Ipswich Hospital has recognised the importance of working more closely with community and social care services in order to help patients leave hospital sooner or avoid going to hospital altogether, and already inappropriate admissions of older patients are 10 per cent lower in east Suffolk.”