In order to provide an effective, safe and efficient service to patients, hospitals must balance the provision of staffed beds against anticipated demand. Historically, the total number of beds had been reducing in line with evolving models of healthcare provision which aim to reduce the frequency and duration of hospital admissions. However, in recent years, the number of beds in Scottish hospitals has remained relatively constant. The following indicators only take into account the use of beds by inpatients.
There are a number of different beds definitions used in NHSScotland so it is important to ensure that the correct definition is used when analysing data. The number of available beds can increase and decrease depending on several factors such as demand and seasonality (more beds in specific specialties during winter, for example). Given that the numbers of beds in a hospital do vary over time, we have established that the best denominator for the percentage occupancy is 'available staffed beds' rather than 'bed complement' which does not reflect the fluid nature of hospital beds. This approach has been agreed between ISD, the Scottish Government and the NHS Boards.
The definitions for percentage occupancy and available staffed beds are detailed below.
Percentage occupancy is the percentage of available staffed beds occupied by inpatients within a specialty/significant facility over any period of time. Derived as follows:
Percentage occupancy = (Occupied bed days /Available staffed bed days)*100
Available Staffed Beds
Count of bed days available to a specialty/significant facility over a fixed period of time. Derived as follows:
Available staffed bed days = Allocated bed days + Borrowed bed days - Lent bed days + Temporary bed days
Available Beds by Specialty & NHS Board of Treatment
Information presented covers financial years 2004/05 to 2013/14, and provides details on average available staffed beds, occupancy rates, length of stay and throughput by specialty at Scotland level and by NHS Board of treatment.
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Information is presented for the quarters ending September 2012 to September 2014 and provides details of the average number of available staffed beds, occupancy rates, length of stay and throughput by specialty at Scotland level and by NHS Board of treatment.
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Caution should be taken when comparing Scottish beds data with information from the rest of the UK as there are likely to be key differences in analysis methodologies and data collection processes. The Office of National Statistics United Kingdom Health Statistics 2010 publication provides a single point of reference for the comparison of key figures between the four constituent countries of the UK. Hospital bed statistics can be found within chapter 8. Whilst the four UK countries worked collaboratively to maximise the comparability of the figures, it is important to note that differences between the countries remain in the way that data measures are collected and classified, and because of differences between countries in the organisation of health and social services. The report includes the details of these differences where relevant.
For specific beds information for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, please refer to the following links:
The Department of Health (DoH) publish statistics on bed use in the NHS in England:
The Welsh Government produce statistics on NHS beds and their use wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2011/111025sdr1912011en.pdf
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI) bed use statistics on their website: