Thousands of hospital beds are set to disappear, pregnant women will face long trips to give birth and a string of A&E units will be downgraded or even closed altogether as part of controversial NHS plans to reorganise healthcare in England.
A Guardian analysis of the 24 NHS regional plans that have now been published – more than half the total of 44 – has found that health service chiefs plan to push through an unprecedented centralisation of key hospital services across England.
Opposition to the plans is growing among campaign groups, councillors and a growing number of MPs, including Conservatives, in areas where major changes are planned amid fears that patients will be unable to access urgent care quickly enough.
Dozens of England’s 163 acute hospitals look likely to have services, including cancer, trauma and stroke care, removed as a result of the plans, which are at the heart of the new funding package for the NHS. The thinking behind the changes is that some NHS services can be rationalised and managed more efficiently, helping improve patient care, tackling understaffing and helping the NHS save £22bn by 2020 as part of the wider financial settlement agreed for the current parliament.
Full story in The Guardian 18 November 2016