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The National Beds Inquiry

5.9 The National Beds Inquiry concluded that more, rather than fewer beds are needed to meet the needs of patients in the 21st century NHS. Steps have been taken to make this happen. Planning guidance was issued to the NHS and councils on 15 February 2001 (Implementing the NHS Plan: Developing services following the National Beds Inquiry HSC 2001/003: LAC (2001)4)(5.10). The guidance required each health authority, in partnership with councils and other partners in the local health and social care economy, to develop clear action plans to implement change. During the summer, NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils, carried out a performance and modernisation audit and proposed 3-5 year service plans. An important part of the audit was to ensure that the NHS meets the specific objectives of increasing the numbers of general and acute beds and intermediate care beds by 2004. Published figures for 2000-01 show an increase of 714 general and acute beds, one third of the way towards the 2004 target. Plans for increases in intermediate care beds are also progressing well. The results of a recent survey on intermediate care show that by the end of March 2001 there will be an additional 2,400 intermediate care beds.

In developing their proposals, health authorities were invited to use a planning tool. The original version of this analytical tool 'Modelshire' was mainly concerned with planning acute services. Subsequently an expanded version was produced to assist planning of residential and nursing home care as part of a 'whole system' incorporating the latest (1999-2000) Hospital Episodes Statistics Data. Modelshire II is now available to the NHS through the Department of Health website.

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