HC Deb 06 June 1946 vol 423 cc2152-3
40. Dr. Segal

asked the Minister of Health how many beds in E.M.S. hospitals had been closed by 31st December last; how many will be closed down by 30th June and 30th December next; and how many beds in E.M.S. hospitals will still be available for use after that date.

Mr. Key

I think there may be some misunderstanding here. Most E.M.S. beds have been beds reserved in the country's ordinary hospitals, supplemented by additional accommodation. As E.M.S. reservations diminish, the beds are normally left available for ordinary use. Reservations were 47,344 on 31st December last, 35,000 at 31st May. I cannot forecast future figures, but they will go on diminishing.

Dr. Segal

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this decision is likely to cause a great shortage in hospital accommodation in the coming winter? Is it too late to urge on the authorities responsible the grave danger of closing down hospital beds?

Mr. Key

I can assure the hon. Member that we shall take every step to prevent the premature closing down of hospital beds, which are so much in demand. Our great difficulty in providing the hospital beds, is not so much the availability of beds, as the availability of staff to deal with them.