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Fewer beds.

Health bosses at North Durham Healthcare Trust admitted in July 2001 that the pounds 70m privately funded University of North Durham Hospital may not have enough beds and could need to be extended or house a private unit to meet demand.

The replacement for Dryburn Hospital was built as a Private Finance Initiative and had its capacity cut from 665 beds to 454 during its transition to PFI status.

Emergency meetings were held between hospital management and doctors, nurses and consultants in July 2001 after a host of complaints.

These included: patients left on trolleys for hours, doors too narrow for wheelchairs and trolleys, an ambulance bay which is too small and high levels of absence because of stress.

The pounds 65m Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, first of the region's PFI schemes, has 100 fewer beds than the old hospital.

It emerged in September 2002 that patients were being housed in prefabricated buildings, although managers denied that the 16-bed portable ward was a waiting list initiative and not linked to space shortages.

A report in February by the Commission for Health Improvement, compiled after inspectors visited the Carlisle hospital over five months, noted cluttered and cramped wards, 15-month waits for some treatments and a staffing crisis.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2003
Words:205
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