Socialist Worker

Hospital bed overcrowding five times worse than in 2010

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2534

The NHS is in crisis because of Tory cuts. The junior doctors’ strikes pointed to a way out

The NHS is in crisis because of Tory cuts. The junior doctors’ strikes pointed to a way out (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The number of patients waiting for longer than four hours in A&E for a bed has increased by 500 percent under the Tories, according to BBC analysis.

Around 473,453 people were forced to wait more than four hours for a bed after being admitted into accident and emergency departments in 2015-16.

The figure stood at 97,559 in 2010-11 when the Tories first got into office.

Those waiting 12 hours or more has also shot up from 72 in 2010-11 to 1,453 in 2015-16.

This dire situation has been caused by the NHS’s beds crisis spiralling out of control.

The number of general hospital beds in England has plummeted by 40,000 in the last 20 years.

There are now just over 100,000.

Britain has 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people, the second lowest number in Europe.

This is a serious danger to patient safety and lives.


Only last week sick children were moved long distances because paediatric intensive care units were ­running at capacity in London and Leicester. This crisis quickly spread across the whole of England.

This situation will only become worse if the Tories successfully push through their Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP). This scheme, covering 44 “footprints” of England, would axe hundreds of hospital departments and services across the country.

But the Tories’ plans have also sparked resistance.

Health campaigners were this week set to lobby the Inner North East London health scrutiny committee, which brings together councillors across the local area.

Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing Labour councils in west London have already refused to sign off on the plans. This can be a major roadblock to them getting through—more councils need to do the same.

Health Campaigns Together have also called a national demonstration in defence of the NHS for 4 March, which the Unite union has backed. Other unions and the Labour Party should support and build the demo.

Join a Howl of Protest on 23 December from 12 noon to 2pm on Whitehall in central London. Go to

Sure Start centre cuts

The number of closures of Sure Start children’s centres has increased each year since 2010.

The centres are intended to provide help and information for children of poorer parents before they start school.

None closed six years ago. But 12 closed in 2011, 27 in 2012, 33 in 2013 and 85 in 2014, statistics show.

In 2015 a shocking 156 closed their doors. There are just over 3,200 left.

The government’s austerity project has seen councils, including Labour-run ones, cut or privatise children’s services.

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