NHS heading for worst winter on record with 50% of hospitals already full

The NHS is heading for its worst winter crisis ever with half of hospitals already packed.

Bed occupancy rates are more than 95 per cent in 72 NHS trusts – 10 per cent above official safety levels.

And 24 of those are struggling at 98 per cent of beds full – with almost no capacity to take more patients, a Labour analysis of the first week of winter stats shows.

It means 54 per cent of the nation’s 134 trusts are in severe trouble.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Our hospitals are already overcrowded and winter has only just begun.

“Tory politicians can’t bury their heads in the sand. Our NHS needs an urgent plan to get through winter. Patients won’t forgive ministers if they allow a repeat of last year’s winter crisis.”

That was so bad that 2.5million patients waited over four hours in A&E with 614,000 of them on trolleys.

Over 3,400 were on trolleys for 12 hours or more while 100,000 had to wait in ambulances, with a quarter of those treated in hospital car parks. Clinicians say a bed occupancy rate of more than 85 per cent is unsafe.

But two trusts – London North West University Healthcare and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals – have hit 100 per cent.

In PM Theresa May’s own backyard the Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust records a figure of more than 96 per cent.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s local West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is over 95 per cent capacity.

Mr Ashworth is urging Mr Hancock to reveal his winter emergency procedures when he unveils his NHS plan, expected before Christmas.

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