Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Union Bosses Slam Move to Cut Back Beds; COST-CUTTING MOVE COULD SEE NUMBERS SLASHED

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Union Bosses Slam Move to Cut Back Beds; COST-CUTTING MOVE COULD SEE NUMBERS SLASHED

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

UNION bosses have hit out over fears Tyneside's leading hospitals are set to slash hundreds of beds.

A restructuring care provision could see more than 451 beds cut and the health workforce shrink by around 166 posts by 2014.

The changes will hit sites in Newcastle and North Tyneside as well as Northumberland.

Confidential documents have revealed radical changes as Government cost-cutting means more health care will have to be provided at a local level.

Health chiefs claim that more in-home care will reduce the level of admissions and life-threatening illnesses, and therefore less beds are needed.

But Keith Blackburn, union rep for the NHS North of Tyne, said the cuts showed a Government bid to "light the blue touch paper under the NHS".

Mr Blackburn, a regional organiser for Unison, added: "We cannot predict the health needs of the future but we know that we will need staff and beds.

"Getting rid of beds is never a good idea, and while we are prepared to work together to tackle changing health needs we should be very clear that that should not be a way to secretly privatise the NHS." A five-year plan, publicly available, sets out how bosses will change health care to "reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and provide care as close to home as possible".

But the End State Vision document states that while bed loss figures are indicative only, "the reduction in beds will not be directly proportional to shifts in secondary care activity". The workforce shake-up has been justified by the need to focus on preventative care and the expectation that people who do come to hospital will not have to stay as long as they previously might.

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said the trust must not simply be cut beds without a clear alternative. …

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