GMB union urges government not to buy Bupa beds

The
GMB union has urged the Government to halt its plans to buy 35 beds from health
provider Bupa after research revealed more than 200 beds at NHS hospitals in
Epsom, Oxford and London have been closed due to cash cuts and nursing
shortages.

According
to an investigation for the GMB union by research specialists Public Service
Insight, 82 beds at Epsom & St Helier Trust and 56 beds at St Georges Trust
in London have been closed because of funding shortfalls.

In
Oxford, nursing shortages have resulted in the closure of 43 acute beds at St
John Radcliffe Hospital, 7 beds at the Churchill Hospital and 28 day and
in-patient beds at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

The
NHS bed closures were revealed as ministers prepare to purchase 35 private beds
from the Bupa-run Redwood Hospital in Redwood.

The
GMB said standard Bupa prices are 50 per cent higher than those in the NHS and
it is also unhappy because the agreement will involve the transfer of 27 NHS
nursing staff from nearby NHS hospitals to staff the new beds.

John
Edmonds, GMB general secretary, said: "This exposes the madness of the
Government’s NHS privatisation plans. Here we have ministers squandering
millions of pounds on buying beds from the private sector when there are
hundreds of NHS beds lying idle because of a lack of resources.

"The
Government should abandon its deal with Bupa and invest the resources in more
nurses, doctors and treatments rather than filling the coffers of the private
health providers."

By Ben Willmott

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