There's a lot of news stories of late about hospitals overflowing with too many inpatients and not enough beds. Here's some of the headlines:
What is not so often reported is that this is directly related to Ontario's policies of very high hospital bed occupancy and very few hospital beds.
|Under the OECD definition, "curative" hospital beds excludes rehabilitative and long term care beds. Eurostat, “Health care resource statistics – beds,” 2016, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Healthcare_resource_statistics_-_beds|
Ontario however often has hospitals with bed occupancy over 90% in all sorts of hospital beds -- chronic care, rehabilitation, acute care, mental health care. It is not specially unusual for larger urban centres to have occupancy over 100%, and sometimes far over 100%.
The OECD, the club of rich nations, reports the number of beds per thousand for its thirty-four members. The average (excluding Canada) for the most recent year reported is 4.9 hospital beds per 1,000 population (see chart below).
Ontario has about 2.2 hospital beds per 1,000 population, well less than half the average number in other developed nations.
So it is hardly surprising that Ontario hospitals often have extremely high bed occupancy rates. Given the limited number of beds, it is a great credit to the efficiency of Ontario hospitals that overflows do not occur more frequently.
Notably, the Ontario Hospital Association claimed this week that "in November, recognizing the need to open more beds and address wait times in hospitals, the Ontario government provided an additional $140 million for hospital services."