'Bedless hospitals' predicted: Increase in day surgery could make traditional district general obsolete

THE BEDLESS hospital is likely to be the next NHS innovation as more patients are discharged within hours of their operations or receive treatment closer to home.

The accelerating pace of medical advances could make the traditional district general hospital obsolete by the early part of the next century, according to leading doctors, health service managers and academics.

The notion of a hospital without beds is already under scrutiny as part of the proposed reorganisation of London's health services. It is one of a range of options being examined by the Guy's and St Thomas's NHS hospital trust.

Day-case surgery accounts for a growing proportion of NHS and private sector operations, 25 to 30 per cent in some hospitals. Most trusts are planning to expand day surgery facilities. The rise of the bedless hospital is predicted in a report on health trends in the UK, based on the views of more than 400 doctors, managers, policy-makers and academics. 'Patients are likely to find that they need to be admitted less frequently. Hospitals may become hospitals in name only, providing a range of out-patient and day care services.'

Most of those contributing to the report predict more explicit rationing of health services over the next few years, and the phasing out of certain state-funded treatments. But the availability of certain NHS treatments will increasingly depend on where you live, as district health authorities pick and choose what services to buy from hospitals.

Rationing by price, according to the experts, is unlikely before the next general election. A bigger contribution by patients to prescribed drug costs is widely mooted.

However, the cottage hospital - once a cornerstone of health care in rural and suburban areas - appears set to make a comeback to accommodate long-term patients, having virtually disappeared from most parts of the country over the past two decades. More doctors are likely to be promoted into management jobs, and given financial incentives to ensure that medical colleagues stay within budgets.

Survey respondents believed that private health companies would diversify and offer additional services, perhaps even contracting with health authorities to provide accident and emergency treatment.

An increase in people covered by private health insurance, from about 12 per cent to 19 per cent by the turn of the century, was also predicted.

Bill Lattimer, a partner in Andersen Consulting, which carried out the study, said yesterday: 'In response to increasing demands, the Government has three options - restrict access to health care, introduce more money into the system . . . or make the NHS more efficient. Probably it will pursue a combination of all three.'

Future of European Health Care; Unit One, Eastern Counties Industrial Estate, London Road, Sawston, Cambridge CB2 4EF; pounds 50.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all