The issue of NHS hospital beds – specifically the number of them available to patients – has gradually climbed the list of pressing issues for the NHS and in the media. We could say that the issue has never fully gone away, being inextricably linked with that of waiting times, and has been a mainstay on the sidelines, especially in recent times.
With rising concerns, about the budget deficit the NHS is being forced to turnaround, the long-term future of the NHS and the rise of waiting times, the number of hospital beds has quickly become a hot button issue. In a new report, published by The King’s Fund, researchers have looked at the issue of hospital bed numbers over the last 30 years and have revealed some startling information.
Here are the key points:
- The number of beds available to general and acute, mental illness, learning disability, maternity and day-only beds patients has dropped by more than half in 30 years.
- 299,000 beds available in 1987 and only 142,000 in 2017.
- Meanwhile, the number of patients using the NHS has seen a significant increase.
- While other comparable health care systems in the world have also cut numbers of beds the UK has cut more relative to its population.
- In the last thirty years the biggest reductions have come at the expense of mental health and learning disability patients.
- Since 1978/1988 beds available to general and acute patients has dropped by 43%. Meanwhile healthcare developments mean patients spend less time in hospital.
- Findings show that rate of bed number reduction has decreased in recent years.