The number of patients waiting longer than an hour to be handed over from ambulance teams to A&E staff at hospitals in England has fallen to its lowest level this winter.
A total of 2,339 delays of over 60 minutes were recorded across all acute trusts in the seven days to January 31, according to PA news agency analysis of NHS England figures.
This compares with 3,283 in the previous week, and 5,513 in the seven days to January 10 – the highest weekly figure so far this winter.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust reported the highest number last week for an individual trust (214 delays of more than 60 minutes), followed by the Royal Wolverhampton Trust (125) and University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust (118).
A handover delay does not always mean a patient has waited in the ambulance. They may have been moved into an A&E department, but staff were not available to complete the handover.
The figures come as the number of hospital patients in England with Covid-19 dropped to its lowest level for a month.
A total of 26,374 hospital patients were recorded as of 8am on February 3 – the lowest since 24,957 on January 3.
Patient numbers peaked at 34,336 on January 18, since when they have fallen by 23%.
The number of hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 has also decreased.
A total of 2,347 admissions were recorded on February 1, down 22% compared with January 1.
The figures suggest tighter restrictions on people’s movements and activities introduced across England after Christmas, culminating in the nationwide lockdown from January 5, are continuing to have an impact.
Hospitals in some areas of the country are still experiencing pressures, however.
Around one in 10 major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds last week.
A total of 15 out of 140 acute trusts reported 100% occupancy of all “open” beds each day from January 25 to 31, PA analysis of NHS England data reveals.
These included University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest trusts in England, along with Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust.
The figure is down slightly on 18 out of 140 acute trusts that reported 100% occupancy of critical care beds each day from January 18 to 24.
There were six hospital trusts in England that had no spare adult critical care beds during the whole of January.
The acute trusts that reported 100% occupancy of all open beds from January 1 to 31 were Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust; Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust; Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust; and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.