Scottish A&E departments ‘stretched to the limit’

Doctors have warned that Scottish accident and emergency departments are being ‘stretched to the limit’ as figures reveal that more than 1,500 hospital beds had been cut over a decade.

The NHS Scotland data shows that delays in A&Es reached record levels this summer as patients who were too ill to go home had to queue on trolleys for space on the wards, after 324 beds were cut from hospitals in the 12 months to April this year.

Bed occupancy levels are recommended at 85 per cent, with figures showing that average bed occupancy levels were at 87.1 per cent.

The average number of beds staffed and available for patient use from April last year to the end of March this year was 13,105, a drop from 13,429 the year before and 14,614 in 2009-10.

David Chung, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, said: “Every day we see more and more patients in emergency departments who wait a very a long time to be admitted to a hospital bed. Emergency departments are stretched to the limit because bed numbers have been slashed year on year. There is a reason why we advocate for an 85 per cent threshold in hospitals — it provides the system with additional capacity to cope with changes in demand. Anything above this clogs up the system and compromises patient safety. Clearly the health and social care system cannot cope with the current level of resource.”

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