Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
5 January 2022

How the UK trails its European neighbours for hospital capacity

Britain has fewer hospital beds per head than Germany, France and Italy.

By Patrick Scott

Boris Johnson has resisted calls to introduce tougher Covid-19 restrictions in England, deciding instead to attempt to “ride out” the Omicron wave with no changes to the government’s existing Plan B measures.

Hospitalisation figures are perhaps the one thing that could force the Prime Minister to U-turn. Throughout the pandemic, the government’s defining aim has been to ensure that the NHS doesn’t become overwhelmed.

Emergency plans to increase hospital capacity are being rolled out across the country but the UK starts from a weaker position than many of its nearest neighbours. Pre-pandemic figures from the World Bank show that the UK only has 2.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people compared with 3.1 in Italy, 5.9 in France and eight in Germany.


The UK’s hospital capacity has steadily declined from 10.7 beds per 1,000 people in the 1960s to 4.1 at the turn of the century, and just 2.5 per 1,000 in 2019.

[See also: How the number of NHS beds in England has halved]

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The green transition can unlock 40,000 new businesses and £175bn
Building the business case for growth
“On supporting farmers, McDonald’s sets a high standard”

Topics in this article : ,