Beds almost full at under-pressure Sandwell and City hospitals
Two hospitals are continuing to struggle under huge pressure in the run-up to the busy winter period.
Almost all beds at Sandwell and City hospitals have been full over recent weeks, effectively forcing them to operate a one-in-one-out system at the busiest times.
The level of demand is heaping pressure on bosses to try and come up with a way of freeing up beds.
It comes at a crucial time with demand expected to increase as the cold sets in in the lead up to Christmas.
The added pressure has had an impact on A&E waiting times, with the number seen within four hours plummeting to an "unprecedented low" of 70 per cent in October from 81 per cent the previous month.
The national target set by the Government is 95 per cent. The introduction of an electronic patient record system has added to challenges, a new report said.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, said strides had been made to improve overall service but the key was discharging patients at the right times to make more beds available.
In his latest report to board members, he said: "Occupancy rates, despite reducing length of stay by one day 2018-19 vs 2017-18 in medicine, remain close to 100 per cent.
"There are real successes in the work being done, including better compliance with single gender standards, and area leading wait times for ambulance handover.
"The key variable remains discharge volume day on day across a seven day period, discharge timing within the day to permit admission and investigation of new patients in daylight working hours, and discharge coordination between partner agencies."
Both hospitals are being kept running at full capacity for longer than expected due to the delays on building the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, which will become the main centre for emergency care for Sandwell and West Birmingham when opened in 2022.