Fewer beds occupied at York Teaching Hospital and Humber Teaching Trusts
The number of occupied beds at two hospital trusts dropped during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.
Medical experts say a decrease in bed occupancy across England was partly driven by hospitals discharging patients and cancelling planned treatment to free up capacity to deal with Covid-19.
But they also raised concerns about the potential impact on patients who put off seeking help due to fear of catching the virus.
NHS data shows there were just 501 overnight stays recorded at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust between April and June, down from 854 between January and March – a decrease of 41%.
The drop in bed occupancy at York Teaching Hospital Trust was more pronounced than the England average, where the figure fell 31% to 76,300 – the lowest number on record.
The data also revealed there were 135 overnight stays recorded at Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, down from 142 between January and March – a decrease of 5%.
Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the emptying of wards was due to several factors, including hospitals discharging patients and cancelling planned admissions.
He added: “As well as this was the well-documented move by people in general to avoid coming to hospitals at all costs, often to their detriment.”
Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust think tank, said the drop in numbers could be partly down to fewer people needing emergency care due to lockdown restrictions.
Ms Scobie added: “We will see bed occupancy begin to creep back up, but it will take time as the NHS is slowed down by Covid-secure and infection control measures to protect patients and staff.”
In York Teaching Hospital Trust, the number of available beds stayed broadly the same over the period, standing at 1,019 between April and June.
At the Hull University Teaching Hospitals Trust, the number of available beds dropped from 1,082 to 1,020.