London `faces beds crisis'

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The Independent Online
Government plans to close and merge several London hospitals because there are too many beds were thrown into disarray yesterday by two leaked research papers which predict a crisis in the capital's health care this winter.

The papers, which will form part of a report commissioned by the Inner London Health Authorities, say London has already lost too many beds and casualty units are regularly closed to ambulances because doctors cannot cope with the number of cases. Seriously ill people were being sent home too soon and elderly people discharged with nowhere to go.

One paper, Is there a Crisis in London's Health Care? says the pressure on acute services "could assume the proportions of a crisis if there is a bad winter". The other, Beds and Bed Usage in London, is an analysis of a lecture last year by Professor Brian Jarman, of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, who said the Government had seriously underestimated the need for acute beds.

A Department of Health spokesman did not accept that too many beds had closed.