Hospitals must close to keep NHS viable, warns former NHS chief executive

Hospitals will have to close if the NHS is to remain sustainable and be able to cope with future challenges, a former NHS chief executive has said.

Lord Crisp: 'There will be less need for large hospital outpatient departments and some services and whole hospitals will need to close or be merged with others'
Lord Crisp: 'There will be less need for large hospital outpatient departments and some services and whole hospitals will need to close or be merged with others'

Lord Crisp, who was NHS chief executive between 2000 and 2006, told the BBC that there is overcapacity in the hospital sector and closing some sites would release funds for community services.  

He said the NHS must invest in community services if it is to meet the challenges of increasing long-term conditions and elderly populations.

‘That means a shift away from hospitals. There will be less need for large hospital outpatient departments and some services and whole hospitals will need to close or be merged with others,’ he said.

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout agreed that the NHS will have to make some ‘tough decisions’, admitting that closing hospital services is ‘likely’.

He said: ‘NHS organisations must find new ways of delivering services if they are to respond to growing demands on healthcare and increasing financial constraints. In reality, this is likely to mean closing some hospital services, having fewer hospital beds and providing care in different ways, particularly in the community.

‘This is not a counsel of despair. If we get it right this can be about protecting and improving the quality of care patients have access to.  But there is no question about it - we are going to have to do more for less.’

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