Politics: NHS in talks on private bed 'bail out'

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The Independent Online
Britain's private hospitals have been negotiating with the Department of Health over providing extra beds to aid the NHS in a winter crisis. The talks centred on sending health service patients to private hospitals and nursing homes so as to make NHS beds available for emergency cases.

Only about half the 11,000 beds in private hospitals are occupied at any one time and the Independent Healthcare Association is said to have offered spare capacity as accommodation for patients recuperating after operations, or as facilities for routine surgery while health service hospitals concentrate on emergencies.

- Ian Burrell