Politics: NHS Urged to Close Hospitals



A former boss of the NHS has suggested that more hospitals need to close in order to get the NHS out of its problems. Lord Crisp was the chief executive of the NHS between 2000 and 2006 and he argued that the Blair government should have been tougher on reforms.

Moving Services

The hospitals are suffering form overcapacity and, with the ageing population, closing some hospitals could mean more money available to help them in community services.

Lord Crisp said, “The challenge now is dealing with the numbers of older people and those with long-term conditions. They need supporting in the community.”

He suggested a merger with some hospitals and full closures on others. An amount of hospitals that needed to be closed or changed could not be calculated, but changes could have an impact on all of the NHS’s services.

This news comes as the government is deciding what will happen to A&E, maternity services, and children’s areas at three north London hospitals. The government had promised to fight these kinds of closures before they were elected. Campaigners against the proposals have been protesting and are awaiting a decision.

Benefits to Patients

Lord Crisp says that changes should be made to benefit patients, not only to save money. Additionally, they should be made with the appropriate consultation and procedures.

The government under Blair opened up over 100 new hospitals without much consideration. The buildings were all state of the art, but there aren’t enough funds to keep the staff required from them. Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association echoed this sentiment, saying, “What is the point of having brand new hospital buildings if there are not enough funds to treat people in them?”

Another consideration for the new reforms is to ensure patients get the care they need. Merging services could mean that some patients struggle to get to their new places. More care moved to the community should not mean a lack of services. However, the government is attempting to reduce major deficits by cutting spending wherever possible. Any reduction in spending will help with the deficit—so this one will have to be considered from all angles.

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