UNISON, the health service union, welcomed the decision, but attacked the hospital trustees for being short-sighted. Last year five wards were closed with a loss of 70 beds. 'We warned them then that they wouldn't be able to cope, but they wouldn't listen, said Candy Udwin, a spokeswoman. 'The hospital had to cancel more than 800 operations last year because there were not enough beds.
A hospital spokesman, Sam Ryall, said: 'The Patient's Charter obliges hospitals to clear backlogs. Most patients will be in for between one and three days. It is hoped that this will help clear the waiting list.
The beds will be set aside for patients wanting minor surgery.