Cutting number of Yorkshire hospital beds 'unsafe'

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Plans to cut the number of hospital beds in Yorkshire would be "unsafe", official papers suggest.

At a meeting earlier this year, health officials discussed whether the planned reduction of around 171 beds in the region would incur any risks.

They concluded that "pursuing a reduction in beds in the current context will be unsafe".

In 2014, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt approved plans to reconfigure health services in North Kirklees and Wakefield - including the reduction of hospital beds from 1,148 to 985.

But papers submitted to local health bodies, North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Wakefield CCG - following a review of the plans, suggest that demand is too high to reduce beds.

The discussion group concluded that retaining 1,118 beds would be "a safe alternative".

Their papers submitted to the CCGs state: "It was noted that the beds were currently open and there was a risk that if they were taken out, it was likely they would need to be re-opened to accommodate surges in demand without robust staffing arrangements."

The Health Service Journal reported that the plans to reduce the number of beds have since been delayed.

Meanwhile, local health bodies across England have been ordered to come up with plans that could lead to the closure or downgrade of NHS hospitals.

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) have been created in 44 regions in a bid to revolutionise services while saving money in the face of an expected £900 million NHS deficit this year.