To provide an effective, safe and efficient service to patients, hospitals must balance the provision of staffed beds against anticipated demand. Historically, the total number of beds had been reducing in line with evolving models of healthcare provision, which aim to reduce the frequency and duration of hospital admissions. This downward trend is currently continuing. The following indicators only take into account the use of beds by inpatients.
The main unit used to measure bed provision within this publication is an available staffed bed. As the number of available beds in a ward or specialty can vary, due to factors such as demand and seasonality (peaking in the quarter ending March and falling in the quarter ending September), the total number of available beds is calculated by taking the average of the number of beds available in each day of the quarter.
There were on average 13,247 available staffed beds for all acute specialties in the quarter ending September 2017. This is a reduction of 2.2% percent since the quarter ending September 2016 and a reduction of 4.0% over five years. Bed use is measured by percentage occupancy. The number of average available staffed beds and percentage occupancy for acute specialties. The fluctuation in the percentage occupancy can be explained by seasonal demand. Bed occupancy, for example, increases during winter months because of increased hospital activity at that time of year. For all acute specialties in the quarter ending September 2017, the percentage occupancy was 85%. This has remained at the same level when compared to the quarter ending September 2016. For the same time period five years ago, the percentage occupancy was 84%.