8/19/13

Hospital overcrowding 'dangerous' as bed shortage hits hard

Hospitals are "full to bursting" and bed occupancy is reaching such "dangerous" levels that staff are struggling to maintain the safety and quality of patients' care, an authoritative study concludes.


Alas and alack, this report is from the Guardian and refers to a new English study.

But how much more apropos if the reference was to Ontario.

While the English report flows from bed occupancy beginning to pass 85%, bed occupancy in Ontario is closer to 98%. 


English ministers (at least until now) have liked to claim that hospitals maintain 85% bed occupancy.  In contrast, Ontario health minister Deb Matthews defends even more bed cuts.

English Bed Occupancy Concerns Deepen

English doctors warn that the bed occupancy findings reflect their increasingly frantic efforts to find beds and that patients – especially the elderly – are being scattered across hospitals. "A lack of beds in specialist wards results in patients being sent to wards where staff may not know how to look after them properly."

Reportedly, English bed occupancy is now over 85% for 63% of the year and is over 90% for about 5% of the year.

That may be a step backward for them, but it would be a major accomplishment to get bed occupancy that low in Ontario.

Same Again in Scotland
Similarly, concerns are being raised in Scotland about "overflowing wards" forcing hospitals to scatter elderly patients across the hospital rather than treat them in wards focused on the elderly.

In Ontario, the elderly are lucky to get a bed, never mind one in a ward focused on their issues.

Hospitals in Scotland have 16,503 acute care beds. That's almost as many as in Ontario -- but for only 38% of our population.

What's going on?
Canada is an outlier in terms of hospital services. With far fewer hospital beds than other countries, we provide hospital inpatient services to fewer patients than any other developed nation.

In Ontario, hospitals have been cowed and steer clear of making significant funding demands.  But with this, Ontario leads the decline,  providing fewer acute inpatient services than any other province.

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