June 27, 2022
NHS England Overnight Beds
The NHS has a shortage of hospital beds, with occupancy rates consistently exceeding safe levels. As the health system faces unprecedented pressures due to rising demand and the burden of COVID-19, bed capacity will remain a critical limiting factor in the ability of the NHS to recover.
Compared to other nations, the UK has a very low total number of hospital beds relative to its population. The average number of beds per 1,000 people in OECD EU nations is 4.6, but the UK has just 2.4. Germany, by contrast, has 7.9.
Combined with staffing shortages, an insufficient core bed stock means that hospitals are less able to cope with large influxes of patients, for example during winter or periods of high demand.
This has ultimately impacted hospitals’ ability to provide safe and timely care and remains a major factor in growing backlogs.
The BMA has done a deeper analysis on NHS hospital Beds which can be viewed here.