Western Isles Hospital beds are overcrowded

editorial image

Research has shown that Western Isles Hospital has had a problem with overcrowding between January 2013 and March 2014, when the hospital’s occupancy rate was consistently more than the recommended target of 85 per cent.

The worst month was January 2014, with an occupancy rate of 113.73 per cent.

According to the research, the average occupancy rate over the 15 month period was 105.4 per cent, some 20 per cent higher than the target figure recommended by experts.

The most recent month recorded, March of this year, saw an occupancy rate of 111.26 per cent.

Previous research had indicated that bed occupancy rates of over 85 per cent could mean greater risk of harm to patients.

The hospital in Stornoway has 51 medical beds, with total occupied bed days for the year averaging 1,630 days.

Scottish Conservative Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor said: “This is a serious problem and will impact on the hospital’s ability to provide adequate medical care and attention.

“When wards are overcrowded like this, it causes a lot of stress for patients and hospital staff.

“Patients understandably don’t relish being in hospital, but overcrowding will only make their stay worse.

“Expert advice suggests patients left in hospital beds are at greater risk of infection and further problems.

“The SNP needs to take action and ensure the hospital is sufficiently equipped to provide the necessary number of beds.”

A spokesperson for NHS Western Isles said: “The Board acknowledges how hard the staff in the hospital are working to meet demands.

“In overall activity terms, the hospital will be showing a higher than expected occupancy rate as, for some considerable time now, there has been a significant number of patients who have been medically fit for discharge but, due to shortages in social care packages and care home places, have had to remain as inpatients in Western Isles Hospital.

“Clearly this has an impact on statistics as they are calculated. We continue to work closely with partners to achieve a resolution.”