To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the trend in the level of bed capacity in NHS England over the last two years; and whether there has been an increase in bed capacity in that period in response to covid-19 and tackling backlogs.
23 December 2021
No formal assessment has been made of the trend in the level of bed capacity in the National Health Service (NHS) in England over the last two years. The number of beds in hospitals in the NHS in England is an operational matter for the NHS. NHS bed capacity is not fixed and can be flexed to meet changes in demand, including for COVID-19.
Over the last two years, during the pandemic, a number of measures have been put in place to support an increase in the number of available beds in the NHS, particularly to create capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. NHS England and NHS Improvement is undertaking the largest ever seasonal flu vaccination programme, alongside COVID-19 booster vaccinations, to reduce the level of hospital admissions and to free up additional hospital beds. The Government has also provided an additional £478 million to the NHS for this financial year to continue the enhanced hospital discharge programme, helping patients get home from hospital as soon as possible, and freeing up additional beds. This also applies to elective care, with a move towards more operations being done on an outpatient basis, removing the need for patients to stay overnight in hospital, freeing up beds as well as tackling backlogs.