Hospitals in south-east London and north Kent were well above the recommended safe limit for bed occupancy last week while some hospitals also had to contend with norovirus and some patients faced long waits in ambulances.

NHS England is publishing data each week which documents how each hospital trust is coping with the winter crisis based on key indicators.

Here's how Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust and Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust coped in the week of the January 15 to 21.


In Lewisham and Greenwich, the trust's beds were 98.4 per cent full on average and in Dartford the figure was 93.8 per cent - both well above the recommended safe limit of 85 per cent.

In hospitals where more than 85 per cent of beds are occupied, there is a greater risk of patients receiving inadequate care, being placed on an inappropriate ward for their condition, or contracting superbugs such as MRSA, according to the British Medical Association.

Occupancy rates have largely stayed the same since the previous week's report.

In Dartford and Gravesham, of 455 available beds, 426 were in use on average throughout the week. In Lewisham and Greenwich, the it was 835 of 848 beds.

Of these, 24 were "escalation beds", temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure, in Dartford and Gravesham and 27 were "escalation beds" in Lewisham and Greenwich. These are sometimes placed in areas not usually used for hospital patients, such as gyms or day care centres.

At both trusts, this was a decrease on the previous week.

Bed blocking, where a patient is well enough to be discharged but unable to leave because the next stage of their care has not been organised, contributes significantly to A&E delays.

At both trusts, around 19 per cent of all beds were taken up by patients who had spent at least three weeks in hospital.


There were 430 arrivals by ambulance during the week in Dartford and Gravesham and 1,281 in Lewisham and Greenwich.

The trust dealt with fewer emergency patients than last week, when there were 497 arrivals, in Dartford and Gravesham - but in Lewisham and Greenwich there were 19 more arrivals.

Of these, 36 waited more than 30 minutes before they could be transferred to the emergency department in Dartford and Gravesham (in line with last week) and 16 waited more than half and hour in Lewisham and Greenwich (less than last week's 44).

In addition, 14 patients in Dartford and Gravesham and four patients in Lewisham and Greenwich waited longer than an hour.

Last week in Lewisham and Greenwich, 42 patients waited longer than an hour.

The Department of Health says ambulance crews should be able to hand patients over to A&E staff within the 15-minute target time. Failure to meet this target increases the risk to patients and can delay ambulances from attending other emergencies.


The vomiting bug norovirus is placing additional strain on hospitals which are already struggling to find enough beds. The virus is highly contagious, so staff must close an entire ward where a patient is infected.

Lewisham And Greenwich NHS Trust closed 47 beds when the norovirus problem was at its most severe.

This was up from the previous week, when 34 beds were shut on the day the virus was most prevalent.

But in Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust, no beds were closed due to norovirus.

In the previous week, no beds were closed due to norovirus.