This paper analyses the role of bed managers and the processes involved in admission, stay, transfer and discharge of patients in the hospital setting. The paper seeks to begin a discussion of the difficulties entailed in the allocation of beds within the context of confined resources. This is achieved by: a review of the somewhat sparse literature on bed management and associated issues; the development of frameworks of analysis with regard to what bed managers do and the information used to support the bed management function; and an explication of results from fieldwork. This is followed by a discussion of the scope of responsibility and career role of the bed manager as well as the potential and problems of bed data. Contacts with others investigating this field and other trusts indicate that the situation in Greater Manchester may be typical of most areas.