No bed cuts until new funding settlement

Fri, 3 March 2017

National Voices responds to the announcement that local plans to reduce hospital beds will only be supported if the plans meet a new test that ensures patients will continue to receive high quality care.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has announced that future hospital bed closures due to service transformation will only be supported if a new test is met, in efforts to ensure that patients still receive high quality treatment. 

Commenting, Don Redding, Director of Policy at National Voices, the coalition of health and care charities, said:

There should be no further cuts in hospital beds until there is a new funding settlement for the NHS and social care.

NHS England rightly proposes that we need stronger primary and community care before beds are closed. But this would require significant new money to ‘double run’ services. That money is not available – paradoxically, transformation funds have been sucked up to plug hospital deficits.

Neither is there an immediately available workforce for primary and community care. The numbers of GPs and qualified district nurses continue to fall.

To set this test at a meaningful and credible level will in fact mean no acute beds can be closed.

National Voices and its members support the vision for better care closer to home with less reliance on hospitals. All the evidence shows this is better for patients and carers and is what people want. To achieve this requires significant investment in social care and in primary care, which in time will take pressure off hospitals.  

From April, local NHS organisations will have to show that significant hospital bed closures can meet one of three new conditions before NHS England will approve the plans:

  • Demonstrate that sufficient alternative provision, such as increased GP or community services, is being put in place alongside or ahead of bed closures, and that the new workforce will be there to deliver it; and/or
  • Show that specific new treatments or therapies, such as new anti-coagulation drugs used to treat strokes, will reduce specific categories of admissions; or
  • Where a hospital has been using beds less efficiently than the national average, that it has a credible plan to improve performance without affecting patient care (for example in line with the Getting it Right First Time programme)

For more information, contact Andrew McCracken, National Voices’ Head of Communications, on 020 3176 0737 or andrew.mccracken@nationalvoices.org.uk.