Call for action to tackle NHS staffing shortages as wards become overcrowded

Nursing leaders have called for action to tackle NHS staffing shortages after “extremely worrying” figures showed overcrowding in hospitals.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said hospitals were struggling to cope after NHS England data showed bed occupancy rates higher than the recommended safe level.

The average occupancy rate at hospitals in England was around 95 per cent last week, with rates of 100 per cent recorded by some NHS trusts.

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Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Wakefield-based Mid Yorkshire Hospitals both saw bed occupancy of around 98 per cent on some days last week.

Glenn Turp, RCN regional director, said: “These figures are extremely worrying. Not only is this above the England average, it is also well above the 85 per cent safe limit recommended by experts. Hospitals are overcrowded and over-stretched, making the delivery of safe quality care very difficult and putting patients and the staff that care for them at risk.”

NHS England has said that 92 per cent should be the benchmark for bed occupancy, not 85 per cent.

Clare Smith, interim chief operating officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are always looking at ways to develop our services and improve care for our patients.

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“Some of these initiatives are making a real difference during busy times.”

Trudie Davies, Mid Yorkshire chief operating officer, said: “Throughout the last year, the trust has embarked on a number of initiatives designed to improve length of stay and consequently reduce occupancy.”