Up to one in 12 NHS hospitals were completely full at times last week

Every single bed was occupied in as many as 8% of hospitals across England at times during last week, official NHS data reveal.

The latest statistics on winter pressures facing NHS trusts come after GPonline revealed that GPs in parts of the country are being told to reduce hospital referrals, to avoid referrals altogether to some hospitals or to stop sending patients to specific departments within local hospitals. Patients waiting in A&E have also been bounced back to GP practices.

Data from NHS England show that across the country, the average bed occupancy rate in hospitals was 94.6% for the week from 4 December to 10 December - up from 94.5% the week before.

This is well above the 85% target for hospitals, and reveals that hospitals are already under extreme pressure only a week into winter.

Read more on winter pressures
>
GPs told to reduce referrals as winter pressure bites
>
Patients will have to 'sleep, take paracetamol and pray'
>
Two thirds of GPs say their practice will struggle to cope this winter

Every single bed was full in up to 8% of hospitals across England at times during last week, GPonline analysis of NHS data shows.

GPs have hit out at pressure to limit referrals to secondary care as winter begins, warning that practices do not take the decision to send patients to hospital lightly and that restricting access to hospital will put patients at risk.

Alarmingly, at 87% of hospital trusts 90% or more acute and general beds were occupied on average throughout last week - a level that researchers have said is likely to trigger 'regular bed shortages and periodic bed crises'.

Last winter this led to scores of hospitals declaring major pressure alerts, warning that patient flow was compromised or that routine services could not be fully maintained - with GP practices facing a rise in appointments as patients waited longer for hospital treatment.

GP leaders have warned that the level of pressure on hospitals at the start of this winter is likely to increase pressure on general practice. Two thirds of GPs told a recent GPonline poll that their practice would struggle to cope this winter, and nine out of 10 say the wider NHS will struggle.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP appraisal should be suspended until pandemic ends, says RCGP

GP appraisal should be suspended until pandemic ends, says RCGP

GP appraisal should be completely suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,...

First5 GPs and trainees record videos for new general practice recruitment films

First5 GPs and trainees record videos for new general practice recruitment films

A new series of GP recruitment films for Yorkshire and the Humber region feature...

GPs could face CQC inspection at sites delivering COVID-19 vaccine

GPs could face CQC inspection at sites delivering COVID-19 vaccine

GPs could face CQC inspections at designated sites delivering millions of COVID-19...

COVID-19 vaccination could start 7 December as GPs promised 10 days' notice

COVID-19 vaccination could start 7 December as GPs promised 10 days' notice

GP practices chosen to deliver COVID-19 vaccination will not start the campaign before...

GPs face unfair burden from 'layers of regulation', government admits

GPs face unfair burden from 'layers of regulation', government admits

A government report on NHS bureaucracy admits GPs face a 'particularly high' legislative...

GPs should carry out 45% of consultations remotely after pandemic, says Hancock

GPs should carry out 45% of consultations remotely after pandemic, says Hancock

Nearly half of GP consultations should continue to be delivered remotely after the...