NHS cut 15,000 beds: Over 15,000 beds have been scrapped by UK hospitals in just six years, leaving wards at ‘breaking point’, a report by the BMA has revealed.

NHS cut 15,000 beds: The report outlines the significant reduction in beds is the equivalent to closing 24 hospitals, amounting to a 10 per cent fall in NHS beds at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure and needs them the most.

There are now just 129,458 hospital beds available for patients at night, down from 144,455 in 2010/11. Critics say patients’ safety is at risk and blame the cuts on an NHS obsession with shifting care out of hospitals and ‘closer to home’.

Labour described the BMA report as a “wake-up call which Theresa May must not ignore”.

The Liberal Democrats described the situation as “intolerable”. According to the analysis, there was an average of 3.8 beds per 1,000 people in 2000 – but this had dropped to 2.4 beds by 2015.

In November 2016, 14.8 per cent of patients spent more than four hours waiting for a hospital bed, having been seen in an A&E department.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA’s council, said: ‘These figures paint an even bleaker picture of an NHS that is at breaking point.

‘High bed occupancy is a symptom of wider pressure and demand on an overstretched and underfunded system. It causes delays in admissions, operations being cancelled and patients being unfairly and sometimes repeatedly let down.

‘The delays that vulnerable patients are facing, particularly those with mental health issues, have almost become the norm and this is unacceptable.’

The bed shortage is being exacerbated by the bed-blocking crisis, caused by the problems in the social care sector. With a shortage of home help and places at residential care homes, elderly and vulnerable patients are staying in hospital longer than they should.

Former health minister, Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, said: ‘The situation is getting intolerable, with more cancelled operations, longer delays and those with mental health issues being systematically let down. The Government is failing to properly fund the NHS and patients are paying the price.’