Official Welsh Government figures released today show the number of beds in the Welsh health service has continued to fall year-on-year and has now declined by almost a third since 1996/97.

In 2017/18, the average number of daily available NHS beds was 10,712, a fall of 144 (1.3%) on the previous year, and now the lowest on record.

That number has fallen every year since 1996/97. Since then, there has been an overall decrease of 4,870 (31.3%) from 15,582 beds to 10,712.

When concentrating on health boards, the average number of beds available on a daily basis in the NHS decreased between 2016/17 and 2017/18 in 5 out of the 8 local health boards and trusts in Wales.

Last year, Betsi Cadwaladr had the most average daily available beds (2,205). However, since 2009/10 – when the health boards were created – the North Wales health board has had the largest decrease with a fall of 540 beds (19.7%), despite having the largest increase in percentage occupancy, rising by 13.3% to 87.6%, in the same period.

Meanwhile, the percentage occupancy of NHS Wales beds in 2017/18 was 87%, 8.7% higher than it was in 1996/97.

Cardiff and Vale health board had the highest percentage occupancy of available beds last year with 88.4%, and, along with Betsi Cadwaladr, was the only health board to record an increase on 2016/17.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Secretary Angela Burns AM said:

“How can Welsh Labour possibly profess to be the party of the NHS having presided over the dilapidation of the health service in Wales for so long that one in three beds have disappeared in the face of a growing and ageing population?

“It is disgraceful that the people of Wales have been let down like this by the Welsh Labour Government, having entrusted them with the reins of power.

“It is particularly sad to see North Wales failed here: despite their health board being in special measures and under direct Welsh Government control for over three years, it is they who have seen the largest drop in bed numbers since Carwyn Jones came to power.

“The current and former Cabinet Secretaries for Health are Welsh Labour’s candidates for the next First Minister of Wales. Given their appalling track records in health, I dread to think about the havoc they would cause across the whole country.�