The NHS is believed to be heading for its worst winter crisis ever, with half of all hospitals already overcrowded.
72 NHS trusts have bed occupancy rates of more than 95 per cent, ten per cent above official safety levels. Of these, 24 are struggling, with 98 per cent of beds full and almost no capacity to take more patients.
According to clinicians, a bed occupancy rate of more than 85 per cent is unsafe. Last year’s crisis saw 2.5 million patients waiting over four hours in Accident and Emergency, 614,000 of them on trolleys. Over 3,400 were left on trolleys for twelve hours or more, while 100,000 had to wait in ambulances, with a quarter of those treated in hospital car parks.
However, the situation is particularly acute on the Isle of Wight, where the bed occupancy rate is currently a staggering 99%, the 11th worst rate in the UK as a whole. Julian Critchley, from the IW Labour Party, commented:
“This national scandal is the inevitable consequence of 8 years of Conservative government underfunding of our NHS. It’s particularly bad on the Island because the government, supported by local Tories on the council and the local Tory MP, have also been cutting services at St Mary’s and moving them to the mainland.”
“Lives and well-being are now at risk as a direct result of the policies of this government and the local council which supports them.
“Every time the Labour Party has pointed out what the Tories are doing to the NHS, the Tories have insisted that we were ‘scaremongering’. Well, perhaps people should be scared, because this is exactly what we warned about. The NHS is not safe in Conservative hands.”