The medical establishment has thrown its weight behind controversial plans to close up to 60 hospital departments across the country as the only way to guarantee the highest standards of care for patients.
The Observer can reveal that the heads of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians have given their support to government plans for a massive ‘reconfiguration’ of hospital services, affecting every region. This will involve the closure of casualty departments, small midwife-led maternity units and children’s centres in smaller hospitals.
Although the £512m deficit facing the NHS is a driving force behind the plans, doctors are fearful that hospitals cannot offer safe services as junior doctors’ hours have been slashed in recent years from 72 to 48 a week, and will fall to 40 a week by 2009, leaving many fewer doctors available to be on call, particularly at night.
Doctors back mass hospital closures