A foundation trust rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission has pledged to refocus on patient safety by restricting its supply of extra beds, despite predictions of increasing demand.

East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust’s board heard last week that it faced a shortfall of 50 beds by next month, even when the maximum number of beds which could be safely staffed were opened.

Karen Miles, the trust’s associate director of operations, told the board: “This year we are going to open the number of beds that are safe.

“Anything above that we are going to have to have discussions with commissioners.”

The board heard the CQC rating had reflected the extreme pressures that the FT faced last winter.

Julie Pearce, chief nurse and director of quality and operations, said: ‘We can’t do what we did last year when we took the hit.

“Last year, we were putting extra beds up because we felt we had to.”

Its medical director Paul Stevens added: “Many of our problems stem from having a bed occupancy that is far greater than we can cope with.

“That has knock on effects for lots of things in the CQC report, even things like mandatory training.”

The trust has also seen an increase in admissions from other parts of the county, with 16 beds occupied by patients from the western areas of Kent, compared with four some 18 months ago.