Press release

Statistical press notice: Monthly critical care beds, cancelled urgent operations and delayed transfers of care data, England, March 2012 and revisions for April 2011 – February 2012

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The main findings for March 2012 were: Critical Care Beds There were 3,738 adult critical care beds available with 3,193 occupied giving…

The main findings for March 2012 were:

Critical Care Beds

  • There were 3,738 adult critical care beds available with 3,193 occupied giving an occupancy rate of 85.4%. This is the same occupancy rate as last month, although there were slightly fewer beds available.
  • There were 404 paediatric critical care beds available and 340 occupied, giving an occupancy rate of 84.2%. This is much higher than March 2011, where the figure was 75.6%.
  • There were 1,313 neo-natal critical care beds available and 985 occupied giving an occupancy rate of 75.0%. This is higher than March 2011, where the figure was 69.3%. Occupancy has ranged between 70.4% and 76.4% over the 12 months of this financial year.

Table 1 shows Critical Care Bed Occupancy rates since August 2010.
Details of critical care data for individual organisations are available on the DH website.

Cancelled Urgent Operations

  • The number of urgent operations cancelled was 282, which compares to 352 in February 2012 and 237 in March 2011.

Table 2 shows information on urgent operations cancelled from August 2010 to March 2012.
Details of cancelled urgent operations data for individual organisations are available on the DH website.

In addition, data on cancelled elective operations can be found on the DH website.

Delayed Transfers of Care

  • There were 4,035 patients delayed on the last Thursday of the month, of which 2,400 were acute patients.
  • There were 119,416 total delayed days during the month, of which 71,449 were acute. 64% of these were attributable to the NHS, 29% were attributable to Social Care and 7% where both agencies were responsible.
  • The main reason for NHS delays was “patients awaiting further non-acute NHS care”, this accounted for 34% of all NHS delays. The main reason for Social Care delays was “patients awaiting a residential home placement or availability”, this accounted for 27% of all Social Care delays. Where both the NHS and Social Care are attributable, the major reason for delay was “patients awaiting completion of assessment”. The distribution of delays remains similar to previous months.
  • Since March 2011, the number of delayed days for patients receiving acute care has increased by around 5,400 to 71,449 days in March 2012, which is the highest figure since collection of monthly data began in August 2010. However, we have seen a seasonal peak in delayed days in March for the last two years. Delays in acute care now account for 60% of overall delays, compared to 54% in March 2011. Over the same period, the number of delays in non-acute care has decreased by around 9,100 days to just 47,967.
  • The number of delayed days attributable to the NHS has increased by around 2,100 over the past twelve months to 76,321, whilst the number of Social Care delays has decreased by around 5,500 over the same period to 34,584 days in March 2012. NHS delays now represent 64% of all delays compared to 60% in March 2011.
  • The main factor causing the increase in NHS delayed days is patients awaiting further non-Acute NHS care. This now represents 21% of all delays compared to 18% in March 2011.

Table 2 shows information on delayed transfers of care from August 2010 to March 2012. Table 3 shows the number of delayed transfers of care by type of care, reason for delay and responsible organisation for March 2012.
Details of delayed transfers of care data for individual organisations are available on the DH website.

Revisions to historical data

  • Delayed transfers of care data for April 2011 - February 2012 has been revised, which has had a significant impact a national level, especially for April 2011 - November. Data for all months has been revised mainly due to errors in recording at providers, with the impact being a reduction in delays.
  • There have been minor revisions to cancelled urgent operations data for June 2011 and January 2012, and to neonatal critical bed data for September 2011.

Table 4 summarises the impact of revisions at national level on delayed transfers of care data

Statistical Notes to Editors

1. Critical Care data

Data relating to the number of available and occupied critical care beds is a monthly snapshot taken at midnight on the last Thursday of each month and can fluctuate from month to month.

2. Delayed Transfers of Care data

A delayed transfer of care occurs when a patient is medically fit for discharge from acute or non-acute care and is still occupying a bed. For a more detailed definition please read the guidance on the DH website.

Data on the number of patients with a delayed transfers of care is a monthly snapshot taken at midnight on the last Thursday of each month and can fluctuate from month to month. Data on the number of delayed days is a cumulative figure for the month and therefore, the two are not comparable.

Data on delayed transfers of care is collected from providers of NHS funded care and is split by:
• Local Authority that is responsible for each patient delayed
• Agency responsible for delay (NHS, Social Services or both)
• Type of care that the patient receives (acute or non-acute)
• Reason for delay
A detailed breakdown of the data can be found on the Department of Health website in CSV format.

3. Trust and Local Authority level data

Delayed transfers of care data covers NHS patients in English Hospitals, who may or may not reside in England and is published on both a trust and Local Authority basis.

Trust level reflects data at organisation level for those organisations that provide NHS funded care, for example acute Trusts, community providers, mental health trusts and Social Enterprise organisations.

Local Authority data reflects data on a regional population basis, i.e. Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibility (CASSRs) that are responsible for all patients who reside in their region.

4. Data Quality

Monthly SitReps data has been collected and published since August 2010. Prior to August 2010, data was collected weekly and was un-validated management information.
Delayed transfers of care data published during the early months of the collection from August 2010 to October 2010 should be treated with a degree of caution as a change from a weekly to a monthly data collection led to data quality issues. Since October, there has been a significant improvement in the coverage and accuracy of this data.

Critical care data published until January should be treated with a degree of caution as data on Critical Care beds was published bi-annually in a separate collection until January 2011. Since February 2011, there has been a significant improvement in the coverage and accuracy of this data.

5. Data Availability

Monthly Sitreps data is published approximately 3 - 4 weeks after the end of the reference period.

6. Revisions

Revisions to previous month’s data are made in line with the Department of Health’s revisions protocol for performance monitoring data. Future revisions will be made on a six monthly cycle. The revisions protocol can be found on the DH website. All data has been revised in this publication.

7. Feedback Welcomed

We welcome feedback on the content and presentation of Critical Care, Cancelled Operations and Delayed Transfers of Care statistics within this Statistical Press Notice and those published on the DH website. Please email any comments on this, or any other issues regarding the SitReps data and statistics, to: unify2@dh.gsi.gov.uk

Additional Information

For press enquiries, please contact the DH press office on 020 7210 5221.

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) statistician responsible for producing these data is:

Mark Svenson
Knowledge and Intelligence
Department of Health
Room 4E63, Quarry House, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UE
For data queries, email: unify2@dh.gsi.gov.uk