All too often, bed occupancy rates seem to be used as a quantative statistic in hospital and PCT evaluation.
On the Sunday Kezia was diagnosed the Paediatric Ward at our local general hospital was silent and empty. On weekends the RMCH tries to send home as many patients as possible. We would see the Borchardt Ward empty by as much as 50% on a weekend. It can be argued, obviously, that the kids need some quality time at home, that the parents will be most available to give that at weekends.But it can also be argued that hospital care is reduced on weekends. There are less doctors and particularly nurses available. We would particularly notice the use of agency nurses on weekends. The doctors who would do the rounds were not familiar to us – they would look at the case notes, a quick question or two and move on. One got the impression there was one doctor in the entire hospital – surely not – but there was certainly not a full complement of staff. Locums and Agencies I assume. PCTs don’t want to pay locums and agencies in order to meet the financial targets set by government so let’s empty as many beds as possible to reduce our need for them.
Without the staff, you need to reduce the number of patients.
Empty beds at the weekend means your occupancy rate goes down, which means … we don’t need so many beds so we can close this ward.