NHS pressures: What's happening at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust?

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We give you the latest on flu, ambulance delays and bed occupancy

The NHS in England is under increasing pressure, with record waiting lists, extended ambulance delays and rocketing flu patient numbers just some of the challenges facing the service.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made addressing the strain on the NHS one of his five pledges in his first major speech of 2023.

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Bedford Hospital

Here is the situation at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust:


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The latest NHS England figures show there were four flu patients being treated by Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as of January 1 – up from none the week before.

All of them were in critical care.

Luton and Dunstable HospitalLuton and Dunstable Hospital
Luton and Dunstable Hospital

It represents an increase from the start of the winter – no flu patients were being cared for at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust on November 14, the earliest available figures for this winter.

Across England, flu cases have risen considerably.

Health research centre the King's Fund said: "The NHS was struggling before the rise in flu cases, so there is a lot more needed in resources, funding and investment so that services can deal with the same problems should they arise in the future."

It also encouraged people to take the flu vaccine, which has not been universally taken up by those entitled to the free jab.


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Ambulance delays at A&E departments across the country also reached a new high in the week to January 1.

More than a quarter of patients waited over an hour to be transferred, while 44% of handovers took longer than 30 minutes.

At Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust, 24% of the 664 ambulance arrivals took more than an hour, while 38% waited 30 minutes or more.

NHS targets state trusts should complete 95% of all ambulance handovers in 30 minutes, with all conducted in less than one hour.

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A handover delay does not always mean a patient has waited in the ambulance as they could have been moved into an A&E department but the handover was not completed.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to a school in London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "We are supporting NHS staff with billions of pounds of extra funding, but in particular this winter, what we want to do is make sure we move people out of hospitals into social care, into communities.

"That is one of the most powerful ways we can ease some of the pressures on A&E departments and ambulances that are waiting too long."


As of January 1, 97% of the 1,106 beds across adult and paediatric general and acute wards at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were occupied.

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Of the occupied beds, 966 were for adults beds and 102 for children.

A further 20 of 26 critical care beds were occupied.

NHS national medical director for England Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: "We knew this winter would be one of the most difficult in the history of the NHS and I want to thank staff for all their hard work in caring for and treating so many patients while dealing with record demand on services, including the enormous pressure from flu and Covid.

"The plans we announced last autumn will help ensure we are in the best place possible to provide care for patients at this incredibly challenging time."