Hospitals in Northern Ireland will lose 180 beds over the next four years, the Health Minister has revealed.
Edwin Poots said the axing of bed numbers was a practical outworking of the Transforming Your Care (TYC) plan to reform healthcare here.
The TYC strategy — proposing a major shift from care in hospitals to the community — provoked controversy in May.
The Health Minister instructed health trusts to abandon their plans to close care homes. TYC had set out a target of closing 50% of care homes — but some trusts had announced plans to shut all their facilities, provoking widespread public anger.
In an update on the progress of the TYC plan to the Assembly yesterday, Mr Poots said that £139m worth of “saving opportunities” had been identified through the plan to date.
The health service will also receive £18m in ‘bridging’ funding this year to allow changes brought in through TYC to become embedded in health trusts.
But Mr Poots warned that the axing of hospital beds could not happen in a vacuum. “It must take place with full and transparent engagement with patients and service users so we know what is changing, when and why,” he told MLAs.