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Hospital cuts planned in most of England

Hospital cuts planned in most of England

Plans have been put forward to cut hospital services in two-thirds of England, a BBC analysis shows.

The proposals have been made by local NHS bosses as part of a national programme to transform the health service and save money. They include everything from full closures of hospitals to cutting some specialist services such as accident and emergency and stroke care.

Ministers argue patients will receive better care in the community. Alongside cuts to hospital care, the proposals also set out visions for better care outside of hospitals, including:

  • Bringing community services such as GP, council-run care and district nursing together into "super" hubs
  • Getting GPs working together in federations to improve access in evenings and weekends
  • Asking hospital specialists to work in community clinics to bring expert care closer to people's homes

But a review of the plans by the King's Fund think tank warned they were not always credible because there were not enough services outside of hospitals and there was a lack of money to invest in more.

It warned community services were already "feeling the strain" and could not currently cope with an increase in workload. And the King's Fund said further reductions in the number of hospital beds could de-stabilise services that were already "stretched to their limits" following the difficult winter.

In total, 44 local plans have been drawn up across England. The BBC has analysed each one and has identified 28 that mention some form of cut to local hospitals. These include:

  • Plans to reduce the number of hospital sites in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland from three to two
  • Maternity and children's services being "centralised" on to one site in Lincolnshire
  • A warning in West Yorkshire and Harrogate that having five hyper-acute stroke service may "no longer be viable"
  • The downgrading of two out of three A&Es in Mid and South Essex, with only one retaining specialist emergency care
  • In South West London, proposals to reduce the number of major hospitals from five to four
  • Plans in Nottinghamshire to significantly downsize City Hospital and reduce the number of beds across Nottingham by 200
  • In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, consideration being given to centralising specialised orthopaedic trauma services at two local hospitals

The proposals - known as sustainability and transformation plans - have been drawn up as part of NHS England's five-year strategy to release £22bn of efficiency savings by 2020.

Reviews were set up in early 2016 and consultations on major changes will take place later this year with the hope implementation will follow soon after. But the King's Fund warned the changes could be subject to legal challenges.

Source: BBC

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