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Supply Crisis – 15,000 NHS Hospital Beds Stuck in Backlog


One of the UK's leading medical device manufacturers in Wales has called on government to do more to ease supply chain pressures in the healthcare industry, or risk catastrophe going into the winter flu season. 

Wales-based DHG (Direct Healthcare Group) provides over 56,000 beds per year to NHS hospitals and care homes across the UK, including 35 NHS Trusts.

It currently has a backlog of over 15,000 beds at its manufacturing plant in Caerphilly, which are unable to reach medical facilities due to supply chain and logistical issues.

It says the sudden and dramatic reduction in the number of drivers available to deliver products to their end destinations have prevented patients receiving the care they need.

According to DHG, the main regions impacted by the deliveries are the North East and Yorkshire, the North West and the South West.

Within the North East and Yorkshire, DHG is reporting a delay of approximately 7,000 units which are unable to reach NHS facilities, despite recent data showing bed occupancy rates hitting a worrying 83.4% (July-September 2021*). Last week, there were only 1,182 available beds across the region in NHS hospitals and trusts**.

Within the North West, DHG has stated that they are experiencing delays to approximately 5,000 units, with bed occupancy rates most recently recorded at 85.7% (July-September 2021*). Only 731 beds were left available for patients in NHS facilities across the region last week**.

There is an approximate 3,000 unit backlog within the South West region, which had only 375 unoccupied beds across its NHS trusts and independent sector providers last week**. From July-September 2021, it experienced bed occupancy rates within the NHS of 88.4%.

The data comes as research shows the total number of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved in the last thirty years, from 299,000 in the late 1980's to 141,000 today.

Graham Ewart, Chief Executive, comments,

“There has long been evidence of bed shortages. Capacity in hospitals pre-Covid typically averages 90%, although this regularly exceeds 95% during the winter season. Add the pressures of Covid and we have a disaster waiting to happen.””Without manufacturers like us being able to deliver the goods we produce, huge parts of the UK's healthcare service will suffer. It's crucial that medical manufacturers like us can get goods to the facilities to help patients as best as possible.”

“We are disappointed that there still seems to be little resolution to the supply chain issues, with much of the Government's focus seemingly on ensuring turkeys are delivered in time for the 25th. But there is a serious side to these problems – this isn't about saving Christmas, it's about saving lives.”