Almost 300 NHS beds are to be slashed at Birmingham’s largest hospital trust in a battle to save millions of pounds for the Government.
Up to 20 per cent of the 1,200 beds across the three hospitals run by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust are set to be axed, warned chief executive Dr Mark Newbold.
It follows 400 job cuts made at the trust to meet Government saving targets of £11 million this year.
Dr Newbold said the changes would not be made until after winter, when the pressures of extra patients and flu oubreaks are especially felt at Heartlands Hospital, in Bordesley Green; Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope and Solihull Hospital.
Appalled Coun Tony Kennedy, a Birmingham health scrutiny committee member, said he will be calling for an investigation into the bed cuts.
“I’m shocked and dismayed,” said Coun Kennedy (Lab, Sparkbrook). “This kind of arbitary cuts don’t appear to be related to clinical need. Health services should be provided on need.”
It comes as Trust bosses fear falling short of the £11 million target by £4 million by only reaching £7 million pounds worth of savings.
Next year’s savings target is expected to be a similar figure.
“We are reshaping out services with a less bed model,” said Dr Newbold. “Much of the cash will come from reducing bed numbers.
“I suspect bed numbers will fall over the next three years by 10 to 20 per cent probably.
“We have interim measures to manage the winter and don’t want to do more until that has passed. Early discharge will see more delivery of care in the home as we try and reduce reliance on beds.”
Trust bosses plan to put an emphasis on outpatient care and reducing the length of time patients stay in hospital.
Despite the cuts, the Trust plans to spend £40 million a year for the next three years to improve buildings at the three hospitals.
Earlier this year plans to cut 700 hospital beds across all Birmingham and Solihull NHS hospital trusts to save a total of £100 million were halted after an outcry by health watchdogs.
A move to scale down on “low clinical value” operations was approved instead, but that has now been banned by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.