Revealed: Are Devon hospitals coping with winter pressures?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:30 14 March 2019

How well are hospitals coping with winter pressures? Picture: Radar

How well are hospitals coping with winter pressures? Picture: Radar


How well is the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust coping with winter pressures?

NHS England publishes weekly reports which reveal whether hospital trusts are struggling to manage during the colder months, based on key indicators.

This is how Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, which includes the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and 26 community hospitals across the Devon, coped from February 25 to March 3.

Bed Occupancy:

General and acute wards at the trust were 89.8 per cent full on average, above the safe limit of 85 per cent recommended by health experts. The occupancy rate has remained mostly unchanged since the previous week.

British Medical Association (BMA) guidelines state ‘to ensure safe patient care, occupancy should ideally not exceed 85 per cent’.

The BMA also raised concerns about the number of available beds needed to cope with winter demands.

On average, the trust had 670 available beds each day, of which 602 were in use.

Of those, 28 were escalation beds - temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure.

According to NHS Improvement, a higher proportion of long-stay patients can impact the ability of hospitals to accommodate urgent admissions and manage bed capacity.

At the trust, 285 patients had been in hospital for a week or more, taking up nearly half of the occupied beds.

Of these, 96 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 16 per cent of all occupied beds.


A total of 532 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. A slight rise in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 523 patients were brought by ambulance.

All of the patients arriving at a hospital by ambulance were transferred within 30 minutes.

NHS guidance states that ambulance crews should hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Any delay in transferring patients leaves ambulances unable to respond to other emergencies, as well as risking their patients’ safety. The previous week, three patients waited more than 30 minutes to be transferred.

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