A new report suggests the NHS should cut more than 30,000 hospital beds to help improve patient care and save money. The report suggests cutting these beds would save cash and create competition which would drive up standards.
Thinktank Reform claims London, the North East and the North West all have a much higher number of beds and hospitals per head than other parts of the country.
The "Fewer hospitals, more competition" study also says the NHS has been right to reduce hospital beds in England by nearly a half since 1987.
In the report, Reform calls on the Government and opposition parties to stop interfering in local decision-making about ward closures and warns they must be prepared to cut the NHS budget.
"The NHS should not be immune from the drive to reduce public spending," it said.
"The structural deficit in the public sector is due to sustained over-spending and the largest part of that spending was targeted on the NHS." "These high rates of occupancy could reflect the blocking of beds by patients who could be treated in the community," according to the report.
The report also highlights the number of beds being taken up by elderly patients who do not need to live in hospital stating, "The highest rates of occupancy are for geriatric and acute plus geriatric care, with 92% and 87% respectively.”
Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee disagrees with Reform's suggestions. He said: "Bed occupancy rates are already very high in the NHS, which is a principal cause of hospital-acquired infection…….Cutting beds for purely financial reasons would be immoral and catastrophic for patient care."
I must say that I agree with the above statement and believe we would be endangering a number of lives without a justified reason. If we are to accept the Reforms view of caring for the elderly in the community, how long will it be before cuts are made in this area? What will happen to patients when we reach that point, one can only wonder.
By clinical negligence solicitor and Stephensons' Partner, Louise Griffiths