21 Mar 2013
We`ve seen hospital closures in the news of late, as the coalition government looks to reform hospital trusts. A number of hospitals across the country, including many that we provide wheelchair hire to, are under threat of closure. The intention is to rationalise health provision by concentrating specialist care in centres that can offer higher standards of patient care. Amongst the threatened hospitals are several in North London, with Mark Spencer, the medical director of NHS North West London, pointing out that the area had more hospital beds per head of population than anywhere else in the country. Some accident and emergency departments may close, increasing the time it takes for people to get emergency care. The changes have attracted criticism, as they may result in patients having to travel further to reach a hospital, particularly for specialist services. Additionally, the closures will lead to job losses, with the Whittington Hospital, for example, intending to sell of a third of its buildings and shed over 500 jobs. The plans to close hospitals are controversial, with local groups springing up to protest against them. Notably, a number of cabinet ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are opposing closures in their constituencies. This has drawn criticism from NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who warned that they were “inhibiting the pursuit of excellence” and should concentrate on the improvements in the quality of care brought about by the changes.