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Number of NHS beds at Wales and Local Health Board level for April 2022 to March 2023.

Data presented in this statistical headline are an annual financial yearly average and illustrate yearly changing occupancy rates and bed availability. An underlying monthly data series is also available from the link in the data section below.

The data spans the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which affected NHS services. Caution should be exercised in comparing bed occupancy during the pandemic with previous and subsequent years.

Main points

The latest data show small increases in the number of average daily available beds and beds occupied. The occupancy rate also increased slightly. Beds available and beds occupied remain slightly below their pre-pandemic levels. The long term trend of decreasing availability and occupancy has levelled off somewhat in recent years.

The average daily number of available beds in 2022-23 was 10,400, an increase of 125 (1.2%) compared to 2021-22.

The average daily number of occupied beds in 2022-23 was 8,888, an increase of 546 (6.5%) compared to 2021-22.

The percentage occupancy of NHS beds in 2022-23 was 85.5%. This is an increase of 4.3 percentage points compared to 2021-22.

Long term change

Since the current data collection began in 1996-97, both the average number of daily occupied beds and available beds have  decreased, buthave levelled off in recent years. The percentage occupancy increased gradually until 2016-17. Following a dip during 2020-21, the occupancy rate rose sharply into 2022 and has returned to pre-pandemic levels in the latest year.

Further background

Note that the long term strategy for healthcare in Wales is to provide care closer to home by increasing community and GP services, meaning reduced demand for hospital beds over time. More detail on this can be found in ‘A healthier Wales: the long term plan for health and social care‘.

Advances in healthcare technology have also resulted in shorter lengths of stay and more day surgery. Data on average length of stay is available from Admitted Patient Care (APC) Data Online (Digital Health and Care Wales).


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Rhys Strafford

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