NHS trusts `mean more wait for fewer beds'


Health Services Correspondent

The creation of NHS trusts has cut available beds and increased the number of people waiting for treatment, according to a survey published today, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the establishment of first-wave trusts.

The study, by the trade union-funded Labour Research Department, shows that from 1991 to 1994, first-wave trusts lost 9 per cent of hospital beds. Numbers awaiting treatment increased by 11 per cent. Nearly three- quarters of first-wave trusts lost beds while just over a quarter gained them. The net loss among 50 comparable trusts was 2,701 beds, representing 9 per cent of total capacity.

Trusts with major bed losses were Epsom Healthcare, which lost 21 per cent, Nuffield Orthopaedic (18 per cent), and East Somerset Trust and United Bristol Healthcare (both 17).

Almost two-thirds of the trusts showed an increase in waiting lists at the end of the period while a third achieved a fall. The net increase in those awaiting treatment for 40 comparable trusts was 17,218 - an 11 per cent rise. Worst affected were Manchester's Christie Hospital, where the waiting list expanded by 125 per cent, Epsom Healthcare (85 per cent), and Mount Vernon and Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear hospitals in London (both 70 per cent).

The Government creation of a health care internal market will be almost complete this month. Twenty-five new NHS trusts will come on stream, after which 98 per cent of all NHS services will be provided through trusts.

The Labour Research Department survey looked at the first 57 English trusts, which became operational in April 1991. Its report said: "Taking beds and waiting lists as a measure of the performance of the first-wave trusts, there is no doubt that services have deteriorated in the trust hospitals since 1991."

Hospital beds in England as a whole fell by more than 9 per cent between 1991 and 1994, from 252,708 to 228,942. For general and acute care beds the fall overall was 6 per cent from 157,247 to 147,413.

Mental health trusts faredbadly with five of the seven established in 1991 experiencing bed losses ranging from 13 per cent at West Dorset Mental Health to 54 per cent at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Mental Health. At the same time, those in England waiting for treatment increased between September 1991 and September 1994 from 947,800 to 1,071,101.

Department of Health statistics show an increase in throughput, measured by finished consultant episodes, and the proportion of people waiting for more than a year fell by half over the three years. The average length of stay in hospital has been sharply reduced and Labour Research claims there is evidence that repeat hospital admissions because of premature discharge have increased substantially.

The Department of Health said: "The number of beds is not an indicator of performance. What matters is the amount of time a patient waits and the numbers of patients being treated. The evidence is that trust hospitals have been treating more patients and treating them more quickly."

Responding to the survey, Tom Sackville MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the department, said: "Using the number of beds as a barometer of success in the NHS only reveals Labour's ignorance of how modern health care works.

"With more and more day surgery, advanced laser techniques and other medical advances, it is possible to treat increasing numbers of patients using fewer beds. Had they bothered to do any genuine research, Labour would have found the same trend of reducing beds in every modern health service in the world."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Negotiator

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Central London based firm loo...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot