No cuts to hospital beds under NHS review

Published on: 25 Nov 2016

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Pictured: South Bristol Hospital

A REPORT in a national newspaper stating that Bristol was set to lose almost a third of its NHS hospital beds is not accurate, the Voice has established.

If it was true, South Bristol community hospital would have faced losing 20 of its 60 beds.

The Guardian’s lead story on November 19 said that health trusts all over England were facing major cutbacks as they draw up Sustainability and Transformation Plans, or STPs, for each region.

Examples were cited of hospitals in Devon and Cumbria closing their A&E units, leaving patients more than an hour away from a casualty ward.

In the West, the STP would remove 30 per cent of all hospital beds in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, the Guardian claimed.

The STP report for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) was due to be released just after the Voice went to press. However, the Voice understands that there are no plans to close any hospital beds in Bristol.

The Bristol STP does call for a reduction in hospital admissions, through a greater focus on healthy living and a reduction in obesity and addiction. It also talks about a £400 million funding shortfall over five years.

Consultation over the STP has involved councillors and Bristol South MP Karin Smyth, a former health service manager, who is sceptical about how the NHS can make the savings called for. In a recent article for the Huffington Post, she said one hospital alone has a £50m annual deficit.

“Where can BNSSG find £80m-100m worth of further savings? It doesn’t take an accounting genius to work out it can only be done by cutting staff, continuing the pay freeze, dissuading people from attending A&E, crude rationing of services to cut demand, reduction in attendances and admissions to hospital, and the recurring talk of prevention. None of these have worked before,” she said.

The major problem with the NHS for South Bristolians is primary care “ – getting a GP appointment, for example. GP recruitment to South Bristol, with its high levels of health inequality, has long needed support, and sadly in the current world of ... GPs having the pick of more convenient or lucrative placements, it is hard to see prospects of improvement. 

“This problem cannot be solved by reducing hospital activity to save money. So from the perspective of my Bristol South residents, the STP is missing the point,” wrote Ms Smyth. You can read the full article at


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