The BMA reports that in the last 4 years the NHS has reduced the number of beds it can offer by 6,000 across England and it will only have 125,000 beds left by 2019/2020.
Sustainability and Transformation Partnership footprints have lost an average of 140 beds each since 2014/2015, and some of them have not even undertaken a review of their bed capacity even in light of the fact that the worst performing STP footprints were the 10 with the biggest drop in number of beds available. The BMA wants the government to ensure a regular STP level report on bed availability and a solution to restoring bed numbers to an acceptable level. NHS leaders are of the opinion that at least 4,000 extra beds are required to get the NHS through next winter.
“The BMA reports that in the last 4 years the NHS has reduced the number of beds it can offer by 6,000 across England.“
Dr Robert Harwood, BMA consultants’ committee chair said: “These figures should act as a wakeup call to politicians. Having enough beds is integral to the smooth running of the NHS - this is clear from our analysis which shows that those parts of the country that have lost the most beds have also seen their performance deteriorate faster. The UK already has the second lowest number of hospital beds per head in Europe and these figures paint an even bleaker picture for the future. Patients are already facing unacceptably long waits to be seen and the indignity of being treated in hospital corridors, and this is only set to get worse. We urgently need the government to outline a sustainable new funding plan for the NHS to ensure that enough beds are available to meet the needs of patients.”