Research Article

How many beds? Helping consultants to estimate their requirements.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 17 September 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:729
  1. D. St George
  1. Department of Clinical, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London.


    Two studies were carried out in different districts with clinicians who were concerned about the proposed numbers of beds to be provided based on regional targets and assessments. It was found that summary statistics can obscure wide variations over time in the demand for services. Providing beds according to average demand can therefore create a shortage of beds for a large part of the year. It is argued that the norms and targets set by regions should be seen as a starting point for negotiations rather than as the definitive answer for setting the levels of services provided. Because of their particular circumstances certain districts may need to provide more than the levels set by the region, and clinicians and community physicians can work together to provide evidence for this.