The scandal of hospital “ghost wards”

“Hospitals are mothballing scores of wards, closing them to patients despite the NHS’s ongoing beds crisis, new figures reveal.

At the last count in September 82 “ghost wards” were recorded containing 1,429 empty beds, the equivalent of two entire hospitals, according to data provided by hospital trusts across England. It represents a sharp increase on the 32 wards and 502 beds that were unused four years earlier, statistics obtained under freedom of information laws show.

The closures, often a result of hospitals not having enough staff or the money to keep wards open, have occurred at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure and struggling to cope with demand for beds.

Doctors’ leaders reacted with disbelief to the revelations, which come after the NHS endured its toughest winter for many years, during which many hospitals ran out of beds.

“Given the pressures on the whole system, which suggest the NHS is 5,000 beds short of what it needed this winter, [this situation] is amazing and is almost always caused by not having enough money or staff,” said Dr Nick Scriven, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine. …”

One thought on “The scandal of hospital “ghost wards”

  1. Lest anyone fails to spot that these figures are a gross understatement of the situation let me point out that this news article refers ONLY to beds / wards that are temporarily closed due to staff shortages and DO NOT INCLUDE beds that have been deliberately closed.

    I don’t have figures to hand about how many beds have been deliberately closed across the UK – but you need to add these to the temporary closures when comparing numbers of beds available.

    You really don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that in times of growing demand, reducing bed numbers (for whatever reason) is inevitably going to lead to people on trolleys in A&E.

    Unless of course you are Health Secretary Jeremy “Thick” Hunt, whose moniker I adopted a year or two ago is now apparently proven true, or PM Theresa May, because it appears that they need an IQ transplant to be able to see this.

    Ditto for increasing crime being caused by cuts to youth services, probation services and police services.

    Ditto for a shortage of nurses caused by paying them increasing less in real terms every year.

    Ditto for people dying from neglect in squalor after cuts to social services mean that no one is provided to give them care at home.

    Ditto for our roads being full of potholes after cuts to the council grants that paid for their maintenance.

    I could go on, probably for several more pages. My point is that decisions have consequences, and the current government makes the decisions but refuses to be accountable for the consequences, consequences which often have devastating impacts on peoples’ lives, and in many cases causing those lives to end prematurely.

    Conservatives – the deliberately ignorant nasty party for the very very few not the many.


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