Manchester council leader’s call for less hospital beds condemned

Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public today condemned the call by Manchester city council leader Richard Leese for local hospitals to have less beds.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council yesterday told the AGM of the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation that he wants to see less beds in GM hospitals, including Tameside, one of the most deprived areas in the country, with some of the worst health outcomes. He argued that many people currently in hospital need not be there. He believes that the needs of such people can be better met in other ways.

Barbara Dresner, from GM Keep Our NHS Public, said

Our NHS is overstretched as it is, and the last thing it needs is less beds. Sir Richard did not answer the question about taking into account the views of local residents about the cutting of hospital beds.

The £450 million so-called ‘Transformation’ Fund for Greater Manchester’s hospitals to shift care into communities is based on ‘new care models’. These new care models involve voluntary services set up by so-called ‘resilient communities’, including short-term funded ‘social enterprise’ projects that utilise low-paid, unqualified staff and some private sector provision, such as CareUK providing musculoskeletal services in Tameside. This is the old care model of the 1930s!

Leese spoke of the need to boost the economy of GM, without reference to the future of the experienced, trained staff at all levels whose jobs will disappear along with the hospital beds: who of course currently contribute from their earnings to the local economy.

Many of these new care models are untested, meaning there is little or no evidence as to their ability to adequately provide care that can prevent hospital admissions. How is the rebranded idea of ‘care in the community’ to be achieved, after the massive cuts over recent years to local authority social care services, and the shortage of people now willing to work in largely privatised home and residential care services?