In response to an FOI request the Department of Health released figures that showed the number of available beds in Suffolk NHS hospitals has decreased by 20% from 1,501 in 1996/7 to 1,194 in 2006/07.
This exceeds the national (well...English) decline in hospital bed numbers.
In 1996/97, there were a total of 198,848 hospital beds available in England. This has now decreased by 16% to 167,019 beds.
As a conseqence bed occupancy levels at West Suffolk Hospital topped 98% during the first 9 months of this year, despite infection control guidelines recommending a maximum of 85%.(Figures obtained by East Anglian Daily Times by FOI request) On the Thursday before Christmas the main Ipswich hospital was only taking "blue light" patients and out patients were being turned away.
The figures, which only relate to daily levels at 2pm, show that the Bury St Edmunds hospital ran at an average of 98.8% bed occupancy for the first three months of 2007.
This then fell to an average of 98.3% over the first nine months of this year.
Gwen Nuttall, the bossy, impeturbable , unreasoning, penny pinching, box ticking, forceful Lancastrian, no-nonsense director of operations at the hospital trust for the last 4 years , described the process of bed occupancy as "fluid" and added there had been a “significant drop” in the cases of the infection Clostridium difficile. (see below - this is a lie whichever way you cut it) The trust's own FAQ about the bacterium does not mention overcrowding as a factor in it's spread.
“Having fewer beds does not mean there is a higher risk of infection."Ho.Ho.Ho.
Which makes one wonder why the national guidelines suggest that it does.
Furthermore, problems such as the overnight fire at the Royal Marsden Hospital occur (see pic) ...and being in Suffolk , the only region so far to experience an out break of the highly infectious bird flu implies major health risks if hospitals cannot cope initially with highly infective patients.. see Lord Patel Wednesday, December 26, 2007 HPAI A(H5N1) = "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1" - Cause for concern with new cases reported
Curiously Richard Spring (West Suffolk, Conservative) | Hansard source asked on 22/11/07
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of clostridium difficile there were in (a) Addenbrookes Hospital, (b) West Suffolk Hospital and (c) Ipswich Hospital in (i) 2005, (ii) 2006 and (iii) 2007 to date.The detailed figures are available on the national reports at the Health Protection Agency website but it is evident in the figures given by the Minister in response to the enquiry from Dicky Spring there has been no significant improvement at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust 347 cases in 2005, 483 in 2006, and283 in the first 6 months of this year.Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had 400 in 2005 422 in 2006 and evidently things have got worse with 262 in only the first 6 months of 2007.
This also supports the Health Protection Agency report showing a 13% rise in cases of Clostridium difficile (C-diff) at the West Suffolk Hospital at Bury St Edmunds between April and June this year.
This was highlighted by and publicised by Gill Malik, a cleaner at West Suffolk Hospital speaking as a national executive committee member of Unison. Gill who has 20 years' experience as a hospital cleaner, said the number of cleaners on wards was cut a number of years ago and had never recovered.
She said once there were five housekeeping staff per ward, three of whom were dedicated to cleaning. The trust policy was to have 3 dedicated cleaners for every 2 wards.
Unceasingly Hospital Directors ignore the rising (and very lengthy) crisis of in house infections -
see Lord Patel - Thursday, October 11, 2007 Kent & Sussex Clostridium epidemic kills patients - nothing to laugh about see also - Rose Gibb resigns - Kent & Sussex Clostridium epidemic kills patients - all targets met. another box ticking , hard faced bitch resigned over a massive C dif outbreak in Sussex, not before collecting a 1/2 Mn Pound pay off.
In places like Suffolk where bird flu is an ever present threat the demand for rapid, effective action is essential - and a reduction in bed occupancies.
LOrd Patel has an uneasy feeling that he will be returning to this topic sooner rather than later.