Sixty seconds on . . . hospital bed numbersBMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1011 (Published 28 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1011
All rapid responses
By using highly selective reporting on missing data values, exactly what point is Nigel Hawkes trying to make here?
It appears to read like this: "Bed Shortage - doctors concoct figures to fake NHS beds crisis".
From ONS and NHS England figures, it is clear that 57% (170,000 of 300,000) of all England's hospital overnight beds have been cut since 1987; a staggeringly large and consistent downward trend over thirty years. Mental Health beds have been cut by 72%. It's worth noting that 80% of all bed cuts have been made by Conservative governments.
Had England's hospital bed-base risen proportionately to population, we would now have 350,000 overnight hospital beds.
Therefore, cuts to hospital beds in real terms since 1987 is actually 63%.
Neither gains in technology, nor 12,000 day beds - however intensively used - can explain this degree of decline.
Given that - despite a mild and uneventful winter, devoid of excess influenza, pneumonia and ice-related trauma - hospitals across the country are regularly reporting unsafe bed occupancy rates; patients are dying in corridors and for want of emergency surgery because there are no available beds; elective surgeries have been cancelled en bloc for several months while waiting lists grow ever longer, what purpose does Nigel Hawkes's article serve?
Sixty seconds wasted in obfuscation of an extremely serious and self-evident truth about deliberately managed decline in the NHS's capacity fails on every count to properly inform or enlighten readers.
Competing interests: No competing interests