Half of NHS groups 'plan to cut beds to deal with financial crisis'
Almost half of NHS authorities are planning to cut hospital beds while a third have proposals to close or downgrade accident and emergency departments, it has been reported.
A poll by the Health Service Journal of 99 clinical commissioning groups - reported in the Daily Telegraph - found 46% had plans to reduce inpatient NHS beds while more than half intended to close or downgrade community hospitals.
One in three said they would be closing or downgrading A&E departments while one in five were expected to close consultant-led maternity services.
Hospital job cuts were expected by one in four, with almost as many saying they intended to close inpatient paediatric departments.
The Telegraph said health officials across the country had been ordered to draw up "sustainability and transformation plans" to redesign services in order to deal with the financial crisis in the NHS.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know the NHS is under pressure, and to ensure the best standards of care in the future we need an updated system which even better prioritises GP access, cancer care and mental health treatment.
"The NHS is using sustainability and transformation plans to help deliver this change. No decisions have been made and none will occur without local consultation."