Revealed: is Buckinghamshire Healthcare coping with winter pressures?

How well is your hospital coping with winter pressures?

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:52 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:50 pm
Revealed: is Buckinghamshire Healthcare 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 Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust coped from January 14 to 20.

Bed Occupancy:

Revealed: is Buckinghamshire Healthcare coping with winter pressures?

General and acute wards at Buckinghamshire Healthcare were 97% full on average, far exceeding the safe limit of 85% recommended by health experts.

The occupancy rate has remained mostly unchanged since the previous week.

British Medical Association guidelines state "to ensure safe patient care, occupancy should ideally not exceed 85%". According to NHS Improvement, occupancy rates of 92% and above lead to significantly worse A&E performance.

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

On average, Buckinghamshire Healthcare had 575 available beds each day, of which 558 were in use.

Of those, 15 were escalation beds - temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure, often in corridors or day care centres.

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 Buckinghamshire Healthcare, 258 patients had been in hospital for a week or more , taking up more than 40% of the occupied beds.

Of these, 130 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 23% of all occupied beds.


A total of 507 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. That's a rise in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 458 patients were brought by ambulance.

Delays left 11 patients waiting 30 minutes or more before they could be transferred.

NHS Improvement 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, 20 patients waited more than 30 minutes to be transferred.


Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is highly contagious. Outbreaks spread rapidly through hospitals, causing staff to close beds to prevent infection spreading.

But at Buckinghamshire Healthcare, no beds were closed due to norovirus outbreaks - both during the most recent week and over the previous one.