'Wave' of NHS closures on the way21st September 2011
A health minister has warned that a wave of hospital closures is on the way.
Paul Burstow suggested that more hospitals are also likely to lose services as the NHS comes under unprecedented pressure from rising demand and with managers under orders to make £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2015.
He was speaking after it was agreed that A&E and maternity units at Chase Farm hospital in north London would be shut down.
A range of leading health experts, including analysts from the King’s Fund and Reform think-tanks and the former NHS chief executive Lord Crisp are already in agreement that some units should be shut so that more patients can be treated efficiently and less expensively in the community.
They also share the view that it is better to have fewer high-quality hospitals, rather than a larger number where care may vary.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Lib Dems’ conference in Birmingham, Mr Burstow said it had been right to approve the downgrading of Chase Farm and that more such changes were on the way.
He said: “We’re now beginning to hit a wave of reconfiguration decisions. We recognise there are going to be more of these.”
The party conference also heard from some delegates that there would be further challenges to the NHS reform bill, despite it being watered down after earlier opposition from Lib Dem activists.
Mr Burstow pointed out that many of the plans being objected to were set out in the Coalition Agreement.
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