The new report by the health policy think tank, The Kings Fund has highlighted the need for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board over cutting the number of beds at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The briefing paper; ‘NHS hospital beds – Past, Present Future’ was released last week. The report finds that the total number of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved over the past 30 years. This is due to more care for people with mental illness and learning disabilities being provided in the community, and medical advances reducing the amount of time many patients spend in acute hospitals.
Although most advanced nations have also reduced hospital bed numbers in recent years, the briefing shows that the NHS has fewer acute hospital beds per person than almost any other comparable health system.
The report says ‘There are signs of a growing shortage of beds. In 2016/17, overnight general and acute bed occupancy averaged 90.3 per cent, and regularly exceeded 95 per cent in winter, well above the level many consider safe.’ The report goes on to say; ‘In this context, proposals put forward in some sustainability and transformation plans to deliver significant reductions in the number of beds are unrealistic.’
Thelma Walker, MP for the Colne Valley said
“This report clearly identifies that a reduction in beds is not acceptable and shows how the NHS has one of the lowest ratio of beds: patient in the developed world.
“Cutting over 400 beds to under a hundred is not acceptable and this report provides further evidence to demonstrate that the downgrading plans for HRI have not been thoroughly thought out.”
“Whilst medical technology has moved on, and people now need to spend less time in hospital after operations than previously, we still need hospital beds.
“We cannot have another situation this winter where appointments across the country are cancelled because there isn’t a bed for someone to recover in.
“Due to massive cuts to local authorities’ budgets, social services are often unable to support people coming out of hospitals with additional care needs. This results in additional nights in hospitals for people who perhaps don’t need to be there.
“In light of this report, I urge the Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust to go back to the drawing board.”