The optimum or ideal hospital bed occupancy is set by the need to place patients with similar requirements in a bed pool where there are appropriate equipment and staff resources.


Factors such as size, seasonality and volatility around the average admission rate all play a part in the calculation of the required or ideal number of beds and the (variable) number of staff needed to most efficiently and rapidly treat the incoming patients at different points in time.       





   Hospital Beds







Principles for effective bed planning

    Bed Management

New Approaches to Bed Utilisation

    E-Plus For Beds

Calculate Hospital Beds

    2 day Bed Planning Event

Bed Presentation

    Allocating hospital beds

Paediatric Beds

     Maternity Beds


Bed Management Series


Health Service Journal (HSJ), British Journal of Healthcare Management (BJHCM)


Jones R (1997) Emergency admissions: Admissions of difficulty. HSJ 107(5546): 28-31  Read Me

Jones R (2001) Bed Occupancy: Donít take it lying down.  HSJ 111(5752):

28-31 Read Me

Jones R (2009) Emergency admissions and hospital beds. BJHCM

15(6): 289-296. Read

Jones R (2009) Building smaller hospitals. 

 BJHCM 15(10): 511-512. Read

Jones R (2009) Crafting efficient bed pools.  BJHCM 15(12): 614-616. Read Me

Jones R (2010) Myths of ideal hospital size.   Medical Journal of Australia

  1 93(5): 298-300 Read Me

Jones R (2011) Does demand for hospital beds depend more on deaths than demography?  BJHCM 17(5): 190-197 Read Me

Jones R (2011) Bed days per death: a new performance measure.  BJHCM

17(5): 213 Read Me

Jones R (2011) Hospital bed occupancy demystified and why hospitals run at different average occupancy.  

   BJHCM 17(6): 242-248. Read

Jones R (2011) Emergency department performance and  inpatient occupancy.

   BJHCM 17(6): 256-257. Read Me

Jones R (2011) Bed occupancy: the impact on hospital planning. 

   BJHCM 17(7): 307-313. Read

Jones R (2011) The need for single room hospital accommodation. 

   BJHCM 17(7): 316-317  Read

Jones R (2011) A paradigm shift in bed occupancy. BJHCM 17(8): 376-377 Read

Jones R (2011) Factors influencing bed demand in primary care organisations. 

   BJHCM 17(8): 360-367 Read Me

Jones R (2011) Long-term cycles in volatility associated with emergency bed occupancy.  BJHCM 17(9): 424-430 Read Me

Jones R (2012) Maternity bed occupancy: all part of the equation.   

   Midwives Magazine  15(1)  Read Me

Jones R (2012) A simple guide to a complex problem: maternity bed occupancy.

   British Journal of Midwifery 

   20(5): 351-357.  Read Me 

Jones R (2012) Volatile inpatient costs (bed occupancy).  BJHCM 18(5): 251-258.Read

Jones R (2013) A guide to maternity costs and why smaller units have higher costs.   British Journal of Midwifery  

    21(1): 54-59.  Read Me

Jones R (2013) Average length of stay in  hospitals in the USA.  

   BJHCM 19(4): 186-191.  Read Me

Jones R (2013) Optimum bed occupancy in psychiatric hospitals. Psychiatry On-Line

Jones R (2013) The NHS England  review of urgent and emergency care.

    BJHCM 19(8): 406-407.   Read  Me

Jones R (2014) Medical bed occupancy and cancelled operations.

    BJHCM 20(12): 594-595.  Read Me

Jones R (2015) Sensitivity of admissions to the external environment: and implications to hospital bed numbers and staffing.

   In preparation.

Jones R (2015) Bed days per death in US states and why the 'American dream' may be an illusion. In preparation









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Beds are the tool through which hospitals are able to deliver high efficiency and sustain length of stay reduction programmes. To have fewer beds than needed is to incur an exponential increase in the risk of hospital acquired infection, staff dissatisfaction and burn out, use of antidepressants, aggressive behaviour by patients, hidden queues and general symptoms of organisational chaos.


Existing methods for calculating the number of general or specialist bed pool (maternity, paediatrics, ICU, SCBU, etc) are prone to error and bias. HCAF have developed a method called "E-Plus for Beds" which is based on trends in occupied bed days. This method has been validated over two decades and gives enhanced accuracy and allocates the correct occupancy level based on the size of the bed pool.


A further adaption of this method is used for the more complex needs of the medical bed pool (including Paediatrics and to a lesser extent in Trauma) where seasonal variation is a vitally important consideration for determining the correct number of beds. The same model is also used to determine the correct number of maternity and birthing beds.


HCAF have also discovered that the volatility associated with emergency bed demand follows long term cycles. This has important implications to understanding why it is more difficult to manage bed pools in particular years when apparent average occupancy looks to be the same.


Related issues are also discussed in the "Capacity Management" and "Hospital Efficiency" pages (see web page tabs above).


For more information contact Dr Rod Jones by email at:



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