UP TO 1,000 hospital beds could be cut across Solihull and Birmingham as Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust bosses try to improve community services across the region.
However the Trust’s Chief Executive Dr Mark Newbold has vowed these cuts won’t take place until the community services are up and running well.
Health bosses believe if community services are improved those who are medically fit can recover at home and be treated in a more appropriate setting, which will decrease the number of people in hospital and the number of beds needed.
The Trust’s Council of Governors body said improving community care could ‘reshape the hospital landscape’.
The details emerged in a document prepared for a meeting of the Trust’s Council of Governors body.
In a report released after the meeting it said: “The commissioners in Birmingham are looking to reduce time spent in acute hospitals.
“(They) have discussed the feasibility of setting a maximum length of stay of seven days for most patients.
“Achieving this would fundamentally reshape the local hospital landscape (could result in a reduction of between 750 and 1,000 acute beds across the city).”
After the meeting Dr Mark Newbold, said he would not agree to any cuts in bed numbers until other services are ‘in place and working well’.
He added: “The NHS bodies across Birmingham are looking at ways of improving community care and care outside of hospital, with the aim of supporting people in their own home wherever possible and appropriate.
“This is about when patients need acute care they are seen and treated in a hospital, and when they are recovering and medically fit they are treated in a more appropriate setting.
“If we can achieve this, we will need less hospital beds in the future as we move to a model where the average length of stay is five days; but like many of my colleagues I will not agree to any reductions in bed numbers until these other services are in place and working well.”
If the plans are successful the changes will happen gradually over a number of years.