NHS beds are being blocked by “well” patients, new figures show, with three quarters still on wards despite increasing Covid-19 pressures.

Of the 87,775 patients in ward beds as of April 5, around one in seven (16 per cent, 14,487) had Covid, the highest proportion since February 17.

But separate figures published on Thursday by NHS England show 71 per cent of patients deemed medically fit to leave remained stuck. 

Only 5,178 of the 17,968 deemed medically fit on April 3 were discharged. 

In response to increasing pressures, one NHS boss has asked families to help discharge their loved ones from hospital even if they’re still testing positive. 

Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (ICS), said staff sickness rates, rising Covid cases and “high numbers” of people needing treatment has created a “perfect storm” across the region.

‘Beds required for those in greatest need’

“If you have a loved one who is in hospital, please help staff to help get them home quickly when they are well enough – even if they are still testing positive for Covid. That is enormously important to help us make beds available for those in greatest need,” he said.

Almost “every hospital bed” across the region is full, the ICS said, with the number of patients being treated with Covid in hospital more than 2.5 times higher than the figure in January. 

UK Health Security Agency guidance does allow positive patients to be discharged if their clinical status is “appropriate”. 

Sir Jim Mackey, NHS recovery adviser, said councils lacked a “sense of urgency” around bed blocking rates and called on the NHS to intervene. 

“Local authorities who have got other problems and so on aren’t quite seeing the terrible things we are seeing, or feeling the sense of urgency and emergency that there is,” he told the Health Service Journal provider summit last month. 

“The first thing I would ask of [central] government colleagues would be to start off the conversation with local authority leaders, management teams, as well as political leaders, about how urgent this is, and how we all need to pull together and do something because this is really scary.”