Nine out of ten hospital beds in England were full between July and September, according to NHS statistics.
Figures showed that more than 50 hospitals occupied more beds than the safe limit of 92 percent of the NHS.
The figures for the second quarter were the worst in at least a decade and on par with those normally in the depths of winter.
Leading English surgeons said MailOnline bed closures have gone too far & # 39; and that when so many beds are full, operations have to be canceled and flu spreads quickly.
One hospital – North Middlesex University Hospital in London – was 100 percent full for the full three months, the data showed.
The hospital denies that no beds were free and claimed that patients on & # 39; flexible beds & # 39; were held that are not officially counted.
The figures contribute to the growing evidence that the summer did not delay the NHS from a debilitating winter because A&E is waiting and the waiting lists for operations are also at record levels.
Five NHS hospitals were more than 99 percent full in July, August and September, and one in London was a whopping 100 percent full – officials from the North Middlesex trust office say they used extra beds that were not recorded in the statistics
& # 39; These figures show that hospital bed cuts have gone too far & # 39 ;, Professor Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons told MailOnline.
& # 39; In our Manifesto for Surgery, we call on all parties involved in the elections to commit to at least 3,000 extra NHS beds.
& # 39; When the occupancy rate of beds comes in the 90s, patients may end up in inappropriate departments and operations are likely to be postponed or canceled.
& # 39; So that more patients wait a long time for operations that are essential to make them mobile and enjoy a good quality of life.
& # 39; As winter approaches, more problems arise – high occupancy rates of the bed make it more difficult for hospitals to control outbreaks of flu. & # 39;
Professor Alderson said one trust is already showing the tension – Northampton General Hospital has announced it is canceling dozens of operations to keep beds free for an overwhelming number of A&E patients in the winter.
The NHS England statistics show that 90 percent of general hospital beds in England were full this year in July, August and September.
Compared to the same periods in the last decade, this is the highest figure and shows that departments were busier than the previous high of 89.2 percent in 2016-17.
The share of available NHS beds in July, August and September (quarter 2) has fallen from 14.4 percent to just 10 percent, according to NHS data
SURGEONS SAY THAT THE OBJECTIVE OF 92% BED IS TOO HIGH
The aim of the NHS to limit hospitals to 92 percent of their beds is too flexible, according to surgeons and emergency doctors.
In 2017, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine expressed concern about the 92 percent target.
It said that this should be considerably lower and set at 85 percent.
Beds must be kept empty to cope with peaks in emergency patients, which can occur during the winter, when the admissions are always higher, or during outbreaks of illness such as flu, or in the event of a terror attack or major accident.
If too many beds are full, it is slower to take patients through A&E, which in turn leads to longer waiting times for emergency patients.
The then president of the RCEM, Taj Hassan, told the Health Service Journal: “It is extremely worrying that one recommendation appears to be revising safe occupancy of beds by up to 92 percent.
& # 39; (The College) would be seriously concerned about this as a safety metric and we would be interested in understanding the scientific basis behind this dissertation.
& # 39; Our strong belief is that all data indicates that 85 percent is the safer (and more efficient) level that all systems should strive for. & # 39;
And NHS Providers, who represent hospital and ambulance staff, agreed that having a goal higher than 90 percent is a & # 39; real care & # 39; used to be.
The NHS strives to keep at least eight percent of the beds free at any time in any hospital to keep room for emergency patients.
While 98 of the 151 hospitals in England achieved this (analysis excluded those with fewer than 100 beds), the remaining 53 did not.
Hospitals that did not stay below the 92 percent target had an occupancy rate of 92 to 100, the last in the & # 39; North Mid & # 39; in Enfield, in the north of London.
Chief operating officer, Dr. Andy Heeps said: & # 39; It is not true to claim that North Mid during that entire period & # 39; no single bed was free & # 39 ;.
& # 39; Like many other hospitals, in addition to our fixed beds, we have a number of beds flexible throughout the year to meet the needs of our local health care community. & # 39;
Dr. Heeps said the hospital decided to open more beds permanently last month, and therefore the actual figure was around 96 percent & # 39 ;.
He added: & # 39; Although this is still high, it is clearly not the impossible situation that would represent 100 percent capacity.
& # 39; However, we remain 100 percent grateful for the hard work of our employees and local partners who go every day to provide the best care for our local community. & # 39;
Other hospitals that barely had overnight beds during the 12-week period included the Royal United Hospital in Bath, which was 99.6 percent full.
The George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton was 99.4% full, the West Sussex hospitals were 99.2% and the Oxford University Hospitals 99.1%.
Among those with the most free beds was the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in London (63.4 percent); Sheffield Children & # 39; s Hospital (68.7 percent) and Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge (72.2 percent).
However, these hospitals are extremely small, with fewer than 200 available beds and only care for specific medical areas – orthopedics, children, and heart and lungs.
An NHS spokesperson said: & # 39; The NHS will open thousands of beds in the coming months based on the local availability of nurses and other staff.
& # 39; Hospitals will also work closely with community health services and home care from local authorities and care institutions to help people who are ready to go home. & # 39;
The bed openings add to other signs revealed this month that the NHS is under unprecedented tension.
A record high in six patients had to wait longer than four hours to be seen in A&E in October, and 4.42 million people are now waiting for routine surgery.
Data for September showed that the number of people waiting for routine surgery is at a record high for the sixth time this year, with 4,420,000 people on the list
Only 83.6 percent of A&E patients were seen within the four-hour goal, which means that 320,000 people were sitting longer while doctors decided what they wanted to do with them.
Dr. Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: & # 39; We have reached a new low in terms of hospital performance compared to emergency aid standards.
& # 39; The risk is that this is ignored, with the human stories behind the numbers being ignored.
& # 39; These figures must be a source of shame for politicians of all regions. Patients have been repeatedly abandoned by a parliament that has consistently failed to understand the extent of the problem. & # 39;
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