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Medical Practice

How Many Acute Beds Do We Really Need?

Br Med J 1972; 4 doi: (Published 28 October 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;4:220
  1. Mark Wheeler


    At the end of 1972 two new “best-buy” district general hospitals should open at Bury St. Edmunds and Frimley, eventually serving their catchment areas at a ratio of two acute beds per 1,000 population. This study shows that one of these areas is already operating below this projected target as a result of a considerable decline in the bed ratio over the past decade. Drastic shortening of the average length of stay has permitted an increase in admission rates from 60 to 79 per 1,000 population over the decade, while costs per case measured at constant prices have fallen. These changes have taken place more rapidly than in the U.K. generally. The evidence points to the pattern of clinical management as the main reason for this and suggests that similar gains could be achieved on a national scale, even without waiting for new buildings and expanded community services.

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