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One in five accident departments closed'

(Photograph omitted)

ONE IN FIVE accident and emergency departments closed in England in the first year of the NHS reforms, David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, said yesterday, writes Nicholas Timmins.

According to figures provided by Tom Sackville, the health minister, the number of casualty departments fell from 294 in 1990-91 to 238 in 1991-92. The fall comes before further accident and emergency department closures are expected in London and other big cities.

Meanwhile a paper by the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts predicts 'radical changes' within the next seven years, with far fewer high technology trauma centres, off-set by more day-surgery done at or near home.

Reinventing Health Care; Nahat, Vincent Drive, Birmingham B15 2SQ; 10.