Hospital Bed Capacity

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 6 December 2022.

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Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South

What steps his Department is taking to increase hospital bed capacity.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

To support operational resilience, the NHS has set out plans to increase hospital bed capacity by the equivalent of at least 7,000 general and acute beds during the winter. That is alongside £500 million of funding to support quick, safe discharge from hospital and free up capacity, and £1.5 billion of targeted investment funding for new surgical hubs, increasing bed capacity and equipment for elective care recovery.

Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South

I am grateful for the Minister’s response. Over the last 20 years, Warrington has had among the highest level of new houses built in the north-west of England, but our healthcare infrastructure has not kept pace. We desperately need a new hospital. Our accident and emergency is at breaking point, we do not have enough beds and there is nowhere for those visiting to park their cars. In 2021, my NHS trust submitted a bid to the Department of Health and Social Care for a new hospital. Will he update us on where we are with that process?

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

I thank my hon. Friend, who has been a long-standing advocate for a new general hospital for Warrington. The expression of interest from the trust has been received. We are currently in the process of reviewing expressions of interest for the eight new hospitals and aim to announce a final decision by the end of the year. I recently met him to hear about the plans, and the people of Warrington could not have a greater champion than him.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

May I associate myself with the remarks of Andy Carter about the need for investment in Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust? It is important that both hospitals have that investment. Part of the capacity problem is the lack of social care capacity in the community, whether in a home or in patients’ own homes. Just recently, I had an email from the chief executive of Whiston Hospital, a large acute hospital, where 115 patients were in beds when they did not need to be—they should have been going out of the hospital—out of a total of 721 adult acute beds. Is that not an example of where the Government are failing to provide enough social care out in the community?

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

We are investing £500 million to create another 200,000 social care placements, but we have significantly increased the number of physical beds available in our hospitals. In July, before we made the commitment to increase bed capacity, we had 96,375 general and acute beds; in October, we had 97,350. We are also delivering that increased capacity outside of hospital through this winter by creating an extra 2,500 virtual ward beds.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is high time the outstanding care and skill of Hillingdon Hospital staff was matched by commensurate outstanding facilities, and that it is therefore great news that Hillingdon is one of the 40 new hospitals that the Government are building by 2030? Can he confirm that the full funding package will be announced soon, so the whole project can proceed as soon as possible?

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. The Secretary of State visited Hillingdon Hospital—a hospital I am also aware of—over the summer. There has been no greater champion of Hillingdon Hospital, or of the new hospitals programme more broadly, than my right hon. Friend. Currently, five hospital schemes are in construction, two are now completed and we aim to announce the next eight by the end of this year.

Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Chair, International Development Committee, Chair, International Development Committee

Two weeks ago, a 5-year-old constituent of mine, Yusuf Nazir, died because we no longer have intensive paediatric beds in Rotherham. September saw record-breaking ambulance handover delays and the proportion of patients waiting more than 12 hours in accident and emergency rose to 13.8%, nearly double last September’s figure. In the last 12 years, Rotherham’s NHS has been hollowed out. What is the Minister going to do to reverse that?

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

First, let me thank the hon. Lady for her question. I am very sorry to hear about the case she highlights. I understand she has written to the Secretary of State on this issue.

Ambulance waiting times are not where we want them to be. We have increased ambulance staff by 40% since 2010. We have invested, with just under 5,000 more staff in NHS 111; 2,500 more staff in call centres; an extra £450 million last year into A&E departments; the creation of the £500 million discharge fund, which will improve flow through hospitals; and 7,000 extra beds this winter. We understand the system is under considerable pressure. I would be very happy to meet the hon. Lady to discuss the challenges in her own trust.

Photo of Rosena Allin-Khan Rosena Allin-Khan Shadow Minister (Mental Health)

The current state of mental health treatment sees increasing numbers of people languishing on waiting lists becoming more and more unwell, 1.1 million adults denied treatment, and children stuck in emergency departments for days waiting for mental health beds. Are the Government proud that a systemic cutting of a quarter of NHS mental health beds over the last 12 years has led to more patients receiving treatment in private settings? Does the Secretary of State know how much money is given to private mental health providers? Do the Government honestly think they are getting good value for money?

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

This is not my direct area of responsibility, but of course mental health does present challenges for A&Es and for hospitals more generally. We are investing an extra £2.3 billion every year in mental health, we have 16% more staff and we have an additional bursary to attract more nurses into mental health. But we do recognise the challenges, and the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend Maria Caulfield is working hard to address them.