WINTER pressure on hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole is causing a breach of safety regulations on the number of occupied beds.

Beds at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals were 86 per cent full in the week leading up to the New Year, and at Poole Hospital they were 91 per cent full, both higher than the recommended safe limit of 85 per cent.

In hospitals where this limit is breached there is a greater risk of patients receiving inadequate care, being placed on an inappropriate ward for their condition, or contracting superbugs such as MRSA, according to the British Medical Association.

Of 557 beds at Bournemouth, 532 were in use on average between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, according to the NHS' daily Winter Situation Reports, and 466 of 490 beds at Poole.

Of these, 12 at Bournemouth and 41 at Poole were temporary 'escalation beds' set up during periods of intense pressure, and often placed in corridors or other areas not intended for treatment.

Over December, Bournemouth was 88 per cent full on average, and Poole 94 per cent, however both figures are lower than the national average for the period.

Just 16 trusts out of 137 who reported winter data to the NHS met the 85 per cent target over the final week.

The winter is always the busiest time of year for the NHS,and occupancy rates have stayed largely the same since last year.

Responding to the crisis, the NHS has instructed hospitals to delay non-urgent treatment such as joint operations and cataract surgery to relieve pressure on emergency departments.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "The trust CEOs we have spoken to and the social media posts we have seen suggest that the NHS is currently under very significant pressure.

"Some are describing it as the most difficult set of urgent and emergency care pressures they have experienced."


BED blocking remains an ongoing problem for hospital trusts.

This is where a patient is well enough to be discharged but unable to leave because the next stage of their care has not been organised, and has contributed significantly to A&E delays in recent years.

At the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals 18 per cent of beds were taken by patients who had been there for three weeks or longer during the last week of the year, and 50 per cent of patients had been in hospital for longer than a week.

For Poole Hospital, 13 per cent of beds were occupied by three week patients, and 40 per cent of patients were at the trust for longer than a week.