'Bursting point' NHS has missed bed targets for five years - Labour

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The NHS is at "bursting point" and has missed its bed occupancy targets for five years, the shadow health secretary has said.

Hospitals in England have exceeded the 85% target, which aims to reduce infection rates, in every quarter leading up to this winter.

The target exists to give staff time to clean beds properly and to ensure they can quickly find beds for patients.

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth told the Sunday Express: "The Tories' neglect of the health service has pushed hospitals to bursting point and left patients in danger.

"It's an absolute disgrace.

"Theresa May is failing to put patient safety and welfare at the heart of the health service plans for the NHS.

"It's time for Tory ministers to accept responsibility for driving this NHS crisis and tell us what action they will take to keep patients safe."

Health groups have said bed shortages are in part due to a lack of social care, which would allow older patients to be discharged from hospitals.

An NHS England spokesman said: "Actually NHS hospitals opened nearly 800 more inpatient beds in the run up to this Christmas than they had a year ago, and added record extra critical care beds too.

"The biggest single contribution to reducing occupancy rates will be reducing the number of older people stuck in hospital waiting for community nursing, home care or a care home place."