The King’s Fund responds to £250 million for beds ahead of winter

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Responding to an announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care that £250 million of government funding is being allocated to NHS hospitals to increase capacity, Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Any extra capacity in the NHS to help reduce winter pressures is a positive thing. Our research into international healthcare systems found that the UK has relatively few hospital beds, with 2.5 beds per 1,000 people compared to an average of 3.2, placing the UK second to last out of 19 peer countries.

‘But adding more beds to hospitals is only part of the equation. To improve care for patients the NHS also needs enough clinical professionals to staff these extra beds. While progress is being made to increase staffing numbers and deliver on the workforce plan, the NHS is facing 112,000 vacancies. 

‘Additionally, hospitals don’t work in isolation. The latest performance figures showed that 11,900 patients remained in hospital on an average day despite being medically fit to be discharged. To free up more beds and staff in hospitals, there needs to be a focus on boosting capacity in community and primary care settings as well as social care reform. 

‘Last year, we calculated that the direct cost of each delayed discharge was nearly £400 per night, and this added up to £1.9 billion spent over 2022/23. This shows that early investment for planning goes a long way to make better use of the NHS’s resources and improve care for patients.’ 

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.