‘Super stranded’ patients take up 3,000 more NHS hospital beds in a year

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Over the past week, the total number of Covid cases in hospital has risen further, to 14,210.

However, the numbers requiring ventilation has remained stable, with 769 such cases in England, compared with more than 2,000 in 2020.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “The problem of delayed discharges from hospital is back with a vengeance this winter, and the primary cause is the chronic shortage of care staff to support older patients when they are medically fit enough to leave.”

She said omicron had proved “the straw that has broken the camel’s back”, causing many staff to go off sick.

“The result is not enough care staff to help all those in need of their support, whether they are coming out of hospital or already living in the community. There is a real emergency in some areas which are especially badly hit, and a horrible risk here that some older and disabled people will be left in precarious circumstances that threaten their health and wellbeing.”

NHS figures show that on the week ending December 26 2021, there were 9,288 patients in hospital despite being medically fit for discharge – an improvement on the previous week, when it was 10,576.

An NHS spokesman said: “Despite dealing with a continuing surge in covid cases and sharply increasing staff absences, the NHS is doing everything possible to free up beds and get people home to their loved ones. And the latest data published on Friday showed that in the last week, hundreds more beds were freed up each day compared to the week before.”

Separate statistics show the number of days lost to covid staff absence rose by 42 per cent in the week ending December 26 compared with the week before.

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