Do outbreaks of ‘Disease X’ regulate NHS beds and costs?

  • Rodney Jones
  • British Journal of Healthcare Management, April 2018, Mark Allen Group
  • DOI: 10.12968/bjhc.2018.24.4.204

Unexplained increases in NHS bed occupancy in England point to an infectious source

What is it about?

This study calculated daytime bed occupancy in the English NHS between 1998/99 and 2016/17 for both elective and non-elective admissions. Baseline bed occupancy over this 18 year period had remained roughly constant despite predictions by bed models that bed demand was decreasing. Occupancy showed three unexplained peaks in 2003/04, 2009/10 and 2016/17 which were 11,000, 5,000 and 6,000 occupied beds above the baseline trend. These peaks were all associated with unexplained higher deaths and unexplained higher NHS costs.

Why is it important?

The closure of large numbers of acute beds between 1998/99 and 2016/17 was completely unwarranted. Current bed models appear to have no relation to reality. The three large peaks in occupied beds remain without official explanation, although there is powerful evidence for the spread of a presumed infectious agent on all three occasions.


Dr Rodney P Jones
Coventry University

This is part of wider research into the possibility of outbreaks of a new type or kind of infectious disease, see

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