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Bed shortage prompts unacceptable boarding

A campaign by Scottish newspaper The Herald – which is exposing a lack of hospital and social care capacity – reveals that more than 200 patients are being cared for on the wrong ward for their condition in Scotland this week.

Furthermore, the research reveals that Scottish hospitals are running at 96% capacity.

Dr Neil Dewhurst, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “These latest figures would suggest that the levels of boarding and bed capacity in some Scottish hospitals remain worryingly, and unacceptably, high. They also provide further evidence of the extent to which the discredited practice of boarding has become the norm in our hospitals.

“It is of particular concern that we have experienced a relatively mild winter so far, with limited reports of outbreaks of infection. If we are honest, we have been lucky. Increases in the number of cases of flu or norovirus could change the picture dramatically and put severe pressure on hospital services which in some areas are already operating beyond capacity.

“There is clear evidence that the risk to patient safety increases incrementally when bed capacity is above 85%. Worryingly, bed capacity had already reached this level nationally before we even entered the winter.

The Scottish government has also recently and positively recognised that boarding is bad for patients and must be eliminated. It is therefore essential that greater priority is given to reducing boarding and that additional resources are allocated to ensure that we have a sufficient number of properly staffed hospital beds to provide the specialist care required by patients.

“In parallel, we have to ensure that there are adequate social care resources in the community to enable patients to be discharged from hospital as quickly as is possible.”

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One Response to “Bed shortage prompts unacceptable boarding”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    I am sure this problem is not confined to ‘north of the border’! The pracitice can be dangerous for patients (because they may not get the right observation or the right care in a ‘foreign’ ward). There are two basic requirments:

    1. Beds for ’emergency’ admissions should be kept separate from those for ‘elective’ admissions. It is easier to ‘plan’ the admissions and discharges for ‘elective’ patients, so their ‘occupancy rates’ can be higher than for emergencies – which should be at no more than 75-80% occupancy (in order to have ‘spare’ beds into which the emergencies can be admitted).

    2. There must be better provision of ‘social’ and ‘nursing’ services ‘in the community’ – because, only if these are available (including at night and weekends), can a patient be SAFELY discharged from an ‘acute’ hospital bed

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