Kent and Medway hospital beds cut plan

Darent Valley Hospital Image copyright Claire Stretch
Image caption A quarter of patients a year are in Kent and Medway's seven main hospitals unnecessarily, the report claims

Health bosses in Kent and Medway have proposed cutting beds as part of a plan to avoid a £486m cash shortfall by 2021.

The NHS and Kent and Medway councils have jointly proposed a sustainable transformation plan (STP) that could see 10% of hospital beds cut.

It also aims to reduce the number of people dying from preventable diseases.

Council and charity health staff would be used to reach those at risk due to obesity, smoking and alcohol.

Glenn Douglas, the man leading the programme, said: "At the moment, around 25% of the beds in our main hospitals are occupied by people who could be better treated in their homes or local communities.

"That is not good for those patients and it is not a good use of NHS resources."

The plan - developed by NHS, public health and social care leaders across Kent and Medway - would allow health and social-care professionals access to medical records if patients give permission.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Health professionals would work more closely with those in social care and charities under the proposals

But the scheme's success relies increasingly on support from voluntary and charitable organisations as the NHS wrestles with spiralling debts.

A document outlining the plans said: "Across this area the NHS and social care have £3.4bn in funding but overspent by £141m last year. Without change, we would be looking at a gap of £486m in our budgets by 2020/21."

It believes that by reducing the total number of beds in the county's main hospitals by 10% it will be able to use some of the cash to treat more people closer to home.

Any plans involving substantial change will be subject to public consultation

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