One-third of acute beds lost in London

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The Independent Online
PARTS OF London have lost more than 40 per cent of their acute hospital beds since 1982, while the capital's NHS waiting lists have risen 63 per cent, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

A survey by London Health Emergency, a pressure group campaigning against further hospital closures, shows that 9,450 acute beds closed over 11 years. Every borough in London has lost more than one- eighth of its acute hospital beds, which deal with waiting- list and emergency cases.

Across London the number of acute beds has dropped 35 per cent, from 26,631 in 1982 to 17,181 in 1993. The total of all types of beds has fallen almost 40 per cent, from 57,353 to 34,811. Seven districts have lost more than 40 per cent of their acute beds: Bloomsbury and Islington (51 per cent), Newham (40) Enfield (44.8) Haringey (54.5) Bromley (44.4) Merton and Sutton (48.6) and Barnet (45.8).

Almost 2,500 beds (11.5 per cent) in Greater London closed in the four years to 1992- 93, compared with a 5.8 per cent reduction in the rest of England. John Lister, the health watchdog's information director, said: 'These figures don't include the many temporary closures caused by cash shortages . . . but they help explain why so many Londoners are on waiting lists or lying on trolleys waiting for emergency beds.'

The group warns that if further cuts, proposed after a review by Sir Bernard Tomlinson, go ahead another 2,000 beds are threatened at St Bartholomew's, Guy's, Charing Cross or Hammersmith and other London hospitals.