The NHS has become “stretched to breaking point” with fewer hospital beds per person than any country in the Western world, an official international study has found.
An official by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the UK now has the second lowest number of hospital beds per capita compared to 23 European countries. The figures suggest that Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Estonia and Slovenia have fare more beds for their population than the UK, which has 2.95 beds per 1,000 people, compared with 6.37 in France, 7.65 in Austria and 8.27 in Germany.
Only Sweden — which has invested heavily in community care — has fewer beds for its population, with 2.71 beds per 1,000 people, the report shows.
The figures are particularly alarming, coming after a series of care scandals such as those at Mid Staffordshire, Morecambe Bay and Colchester hospitals, and a host of subsequent inquiries. A Department of Health spokesman said: “Bed numbers are not an accurate marker for good care. The NHS is treating people quicker than ever, and more care is being delivered in the community, so far fewer need to stay overnight – which is often better for patients who prefer being at home.”