EXCL Labour says government 'sleepwalking into crisis' over number of occupied NHS beds
Labour has accused the Government of "sleepwalking into a crisis" over the number of available beds on NHS wards.
Official figures show that between June 2016 and June 2016, 90% of hospital beds were classed as "occupied" - the highest rate since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
NHS data also shows that the figure has consistently been above the so-called "safe occupancy rate" of 85%.
In addition, Labour claimed that 46,993 patients have been stuck in the back of ambulances for over 30 minutes so far this winter, and 9,775 have had to wait longer than one hour to find a bed.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said the problem was only going to get worse if there is a particularly cold winter.
He told PoliticsHome: "For a government which prides itself on patient safety, these shocking bed occupancy figures stand as a damning indictment of Theresa May’s failure to properly run our NHS.
"It is completely unacceptable that the 85% bed occupancy target for general and acute hospital services has been missed every quarter for more than seven years, resulting in patient safety being compromised on a regular basis.
"Winter is already underway and it’s evident that this government is sleepwalking into crisis. This shambles cannot continue."
But a Department of Health spokesperson said: "We do not set standards or targets for bed occupancy as we recognise that all hospitals operate differently and we expect them to manage their beds in way that works best for local patients’ needs.
"The NHS planned earlier than before to cope with this winter, supported by an additional £437million which includes funding to make sure people going to A&E get directed to the right service for their needs, and an extra £1 billion in social care funding this year to support our ageing population."