An official international study shows the grim situation of Britain's healthcare. The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that the United Kingdom has lesser hospital beds per person than most countries in Europe with less than half the hospital bed capacity of other countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and France.
The study shows that UK currently has the second least number of hospital beds per person when compared to 23 other European countries on OECD's list. It also ranked 29th out of the 40 countries that the OECD surveyed.
Figures from the study show that UK only has 2.95 hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is far lower than in Germany which can provide 8.27 beds per 1,000 people, Austria with 7.65 per 1,000 heads bed capacity, Hungary with 7.17, Czech republic with 6.84, Poland with 6.55, France with 6.37 and Belgium with 6.35.
Japan meanwhile, has the highest number of beds per person with 13.40 ratios followed by South Korea with 9.56 and Russia with 9.37. The United States also appear to have hospital bed shortage with 3.05 bed capacity per 1000 patients but UK still lags behind it and Ireland with 2.96 hospital bed ratio.
The data from the OECD study reflects the overcrowding problem in many hospitals in the UK, which raises concerns as the shortage in hospital beds are putting patients at risk. Some operations, for instance, had to be cancelled because there are no available beds. Elderly patients also had to endure waiting on trolleys and being moved from one bed to another because of the bed shortage.
Infection control experts warn that bed occupancy rate should not exceed 85 percent as overcrowding in hospitals could elevate risks of infection and superbug outbreaks could occur when there is not enough time to thoroughly clean the beds before getting occupied by new patients. Unfortunately, the bed occupancy rate in England was 87.6 percent last year based on official figures from the National Health Service (NHS) and still remains above 85 percent.
"These figures show that NHS hospitals are operating at near full capacity all the time," said Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust network. "There is no slack in the system and trusts are constantly juggling their resources to meet patient demand."