Birmingham hospitals may lose 1,500 beds

PROPOSALS to close up to 1,500 hospital beds in Greater Birmingham - about a quarter of the total - while investing pounds 20m next year in primary care, were disclosed yesterday.

The West Midlands Regional Health Authority said the bed closures would come over the next five years as day surgery and shorter lengths of stay reduced the need for them, and as pounds 17m a year is transferred out of Greater Birmingham under the NHS funding formula.

The sweeping changes would affect 1.4 million people in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull. It is proposed that all large hospitals should be slimmed down rather than some be shut. The consultative document, Looking Forward, says closing a major hospital would be easier and save more money. However, people would then be forced to travel for care.

The new package replaces the pounds 500m Building a Healthy Birmingham plan which proved hopelessly ambitious a few years ago. But it would still see a string of specialist hospitals and units close and merge, with the Children's Hospital transferred into a refurbished General Hospital, and the Eye, Skin and Women's hospitals all closing and moving into other hospitals. Cancer services will be concentrated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

To help make the plan viable in a city where the health services have been in crisis, the region yesterday wrote off last year's pounds 12.5m deficit incurred by South Birmingham Health Authority. It is likely to do the same for a similar sum this year.

Behind the plan are assumptions that day surgery, which accounts for 43 per cent of all planned surgery, will rise to at least 60 per cent of the total, while the length of stay in hospital, which has already been cut by a third for medical patients in five years, will fall further. Earlier diagnosis, faster-acting drugs, better hospital management and improved community services allow that, the document says.

Dr Ken Taylor, co-ordinator of the Birmingham Doctors' Emergency Admissions Group, said he was 'appalled' by the loss of up to 1,500 beds. 'I do not believe that number is justified by the facts, and I am sure it is driven entirely by the financial consideration that Greater Birmingham is to lose pounds 17m a year under the funding formula.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager required for a busy company in...

Recruitment Genius: Controller / Mobile Inspector

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This leading security company requires a prof...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A sales person is required to join a lea...

Recruitment Genius: Relief Security Officer

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This leading security company requires a...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy