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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Wards hit by winter bed shortage

15 December, 2008  

There are growing signs that hospitals in the UK are being put under increasing pressure this winter due to a lack of beds, campaigners claim.

This was made evident when St George’s Hospital in Tooting was forced to close its doors to emergency ambulances last week after the hospital ran out of space on the wards.

A spokesman for the major London trauma centre said it experienced a 14% surge in demand last weekend compared to the same time last year. Staff reported up to 20 patients requiring urgent admissions who had to be kept on beds within the A&E area as no space could be found.

Campaign group Health Emergency said cuts in bed capacity have left hospitals ill-equipped to cope with the winter pressures of flu, accidents, respiratory complaints and the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

Health Emergency head of campaigns, Geoff Martin, said: “We are calling on the government to make cash available to open additional beds and draft in extra staff to cope with the growing crisis on the wards.

“If they can find billions to bail out the banks in the city, they should be able to find the extra money needed to get the NHS through the next few months without widespread black alerts.”

Copyright Press Association 2008