Since 2015, Epsom & St Helier NHS trust has seen a 8.4% decline in the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, according to House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.
The Trust now has just 1.9 beds per 1,000 people, making it equivalent to Chile - the fourth lowest nation in the OECD for the number of beds per 1,000 people.
The research shows that the average beds per 1,000 people in Europe is 4.5, against a UK average of just 2.4. Germany has over three-times as many beds as the UK, with 7.8 per 1,000 people.
Across England the number of total hospital beds has fallen by 2,233 since 2015. It means that there are just 2.3 beds per 1,000 people and that there are 6% less hospital beds when compared to population now than in 2015.
The Conservative Government’s proposals for a new hospital in Sutton will not make a difference to overall bed numbers, as they plan to cut services at both Epsom and St Helier hospitals to make way for the new facility.
Nationally, the government announced just 900 extra beds, which would not even cover half of the national shortfall since 2015. The Liberal Democrats say that this shows the Conservatives are setting the NHS up for another winter on the brink thanks to their long term lack of investment in capacity.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said more needs to be created to reach a safe level and that staffing extra beds is key.
The Liberal Democrats are therefore calling on the Government to increase the number of beds at NHS hospitals to reach safe staffing levels by backing the RCEM’s recommendation to increase the number of beds by 10,000.
Bobby Dean, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Carshalton & Wallington said:
“These are shocking statistics revealing just how badly this Conservative Government has mismanaged the NHS.
“Consistent underinvestment means that our local bed capacity here in Sutton is now among the worst in Europe. It is a disgrace how far down the rankings the Conservatives have let our NHS fall.
“The pandemic showed us that we need to build a resilient health care system, one that can withstand big shocks. But our bed capacity is so poor that we can barely get through each winter.
“The fact that the proposals for a new hospital barely make a dent in bed numbers shows just how complacent the Government is on the issue.
“We need the urgent rollout of new beds at Epsom and St Helier. If not, we could end up seeing ambulance queues outside our A&Es this winter with patients littered across the corridors in pain.”