How many more critical care beds are needed regionally?

March 16, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes

We are publishing a regular update to our work on Covid-19. Other posts can be found here.

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Important note: this analysis was undertaken on the 16 of March 2020 and based on projections on the growth of the spread of Covid-19 prior to Government announcements on Monday 23 of March. These measures are having an effect of slowing the spread of the disease, which is not reflected in the analysis below.

Our analysis shows that London currently has the most critical care beds overall and also per person. It also has a much younger age profile, so there will likely be less demand (mortality associated with Covid-19 is higher in older people). But it does still need over 1,000 more – a 130% increase in what it has at the moment.

The Southwest, on the other hand, has the fewest critical care beds and needs the largest increase – 600% or an additional 1,900. This gap is exacerbated by its relatively older population increasing the expected need for these beds. But it is the Midlands that needs the most additional beds – an extra 2,900.

Ideally, these critical care beds need to be based in existing hospitals so that critically ill patients can be handled safely and effectively. If and when they become available in the next few weeks, the challenge will be making sure they are used effectively – triaging patients in and helping them to step down as quickly and safely as possible. Managing patient flow will be crucial.


Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.