Magazine article Public Finance

Row Grows over NHS Beds Claim

Magazine article Public Finance

Row Grows over NHS Beds Claim

Article excerpt

Patients and doctors have reacted angrily to claims that NHS care has improved, despite a 30% cut in bed numbers over the past 20 years.

The NHS Confederation said advances in medical technology meant fewer beds were needed. It insisted that care could be improved while cutting back on beds.

Between 1984 and 2004 the NHS cut bed numbers from 211,617 to 145,218 but was still able to admit 57% more patients who needed an overnight stay. Despite this, more than 90% of patients said their care was 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent' in 2004.

'More patients are being treated faster and more effectively than ever before by the NHS. We need to move away from this fixation with bricks and mortar,' said Gill Morgan, the confederation's chief executive.

She insisted the trend was not new between 1959 and 1984 the NHS lost around 14% of its beds.

'We must start judging the NHS by the number of people we make better and keep well, not by the amount of beds, which are, after all, only hospital furniture,' she added. …

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