YEARS of savage Tory cuts to the NHS have created the unprecedented situation where there are not even enough staff to run wards. It emerged that there are now 82 ‘ghost wards’ containing 1,400 empty beds, the equivalent of two entire hospitals. Wards are being shut down because there are simply not enough staff to keep them running.
Dr Nick Scriven, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine said: ‘Given the pressures on the whole system, which suggest the NHS is 5,000 beds short of what it needed this winter, this situation is amazing and is almost always caused by not having enough money or staff.’
Labour Shadow Health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who obtained the figures said: ‘We’ve just had doctors warning that the “winter crisis” is likely to stretch into the summer and now our research reveals the extent to which beds that could be used to care for sick patients have been locked away.
‘Given Tory ministers have allowed 14,500 beds to be cut from the NHS in the past eight years, to now learn that wards and beds have been left empty and unused is a scandal. ‘Ministers should be ensuring beds are used at this time of crisis for the NHS. ‘These findings will not surprise any clinical staff in the NHS. It reflects issues around staffing hospitals safely – in any equation the biggest cost is staff. ‘In years and years of trying to balance books and achieve “efficiency” savings, many hospitals will have taken the opportunities to shut clinical areas if they at all can.’
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of council at the British Medical Association, said: ‘At a time when patients are facing unacceptably long waits to be seen and the indignity of being treated in hospital corridors, it is illogical for hospitals to have extra beds available but also unavailable, because they have been taken out of use. It is vital to look at wzhy these aren’t being used when the NHS is under such