NHS spent £5.5m on extra beds in  six months at Yorkshire hospitals

Hospital ward
Hospital ward

Millions of pounds was being spent opening extra beds to help busy hospitals cope with demand even before the busy winter period started.

The health service spent more than £5.5m providing “escalation beds” at Yorkshire NHS trusts between March and September last year.

The cost of providing extra capacity at hospitals can be revealed as the NHS struggles with a winter crisis and patients face long delays in A&E departments around the country.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the cost of providing extra beds over the six-month period was about £1.5m at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Suzanne Hinchliffe, the trust’s deputy chief executive, said: “As demand for health services continues to grow, hospitals need to be able to create additional bed capacity to provide the care that patients need.

“Very significant pressures are now seen throughout the year, although they are greater during the winter months.”

The Leeds trust said a further six wards had been opened to cope with demand as part of its annual winter plan.

At Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, the cost over six months was almost £680,000. Most of the spending went on the pay of agency staff.

Mid Yorkshire said funding provided by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for the extra beds did not always cover the full costs.

Director of nursing David Melia said: “Each patient stay is funded by the CCGs, and in some instances this does not fully cover the cost of the care.”

The government pledged an extra £350m to help NHS hospitals cope this winter, despite warnings that more funding was needed. Mid Yorkshire said it currently had 83 escalation beds open.

Spending on extra beds between March-September was revealed in a Freedom of Information request to NHS organisations:

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: £292,000

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NGHS Trust: £1.5m

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust: £680,000

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust: £705,000

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: £557,000

Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust: £401,000

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust: £375,000

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: £956,000.