Is Buckinghamshire Healthcare coping with winter pressures?

How well is your hospital coping with winter pressures?

By Hannah Richardson
Thursday, 31st January 2019, 2:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 8:05 pm
Is Buckinghamshire Healthcare coping with winter pressures?
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 21 to 27.

Bed Occupancy:

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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 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 574 available beds each day, of which 557 were in use.

Of those, 13 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, 257 patients had been in hospital for a week or more , taking up more than 40% of the occupied beds.

Of these, 123 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 22% of all occupied beds.


A total of 495 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. That's a drop in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 507 patients were brought by ambulance.

Just eight patients waited more than 30 minutes 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, 11 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.

This week, hospital staff at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust were forced to close 25 beds when the norovirus problem was at its most severe.

The previous week, no beds were closed due to outbreaks of the virus.