Press Release, 24th January 2014,


95% Bed Capacity Rates on Wards at IRH – ‘Suggestive of a Hospital and Medical Teams Under Severe Pressure’


Bed capacity rates at Inverclyde’s Royal Hospital suggest that hospital and medical teams may be under ‘severe pressure’ according to a leading health professional.

Dr Neil Dewhurst – the president of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians - made the statement following the release of data by NHS, Greater, Glasgow and Clyde which shows that some wards at the IRH have bed capacity rates of over 95%.

Dr Dewhurst said:

“At 85.7% the average bed capacity within the hospital during the period of 1 August 2012 – 31 July 2013 is consistent with the national level of bed capacity throughout Scotland. However, this in itself is of concern as this is at the upper level of acceptable capacity and there is clear evidence to show that the risk to patient safety starts to increase incrementally when bed capacity is above 85%.”

“Looking at the data in more detail, two General Medicine wards recorded average bed capacity levels of 96.3% and 97.1%. Similar bed occupancy levels were also recorded in a number of geriatric wards. This is suggestive of a hospital and medical teams under severe pressure throughout the year and is particularly worrying as at this level there is very little slack within the system to cope with high levels of unscheduled care which could suddenly arise due to outbreaks of influenza or norovirus.”

“Previously such bed capacity levels would only have been experienced occasionally and during major outbreaks of this nature, during which wards have to be closed and patients moved temporarily to other wards to reduce the spread of infection. Regrettably, these levels are becoming the norm in Scottish hospitals and we do not believe this is sustainable or in the best interests of patients”.


Duncan McNeil said:

“It’s of real concern that the bed capacity rates on some wards at the IRH are well above levels which the RCOP deem to be acceptable. It’s particularly concerning when you consider that these figures do not include the winter months when pressures on the service can increase significantly due to the winter flu.”

“The RCOP have also indicated that such rates can lead to boarding. This is worrying as boarding involves patients being moved wards and can result in them not getting the specialised care they need”