§ 37. John Cryer
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the number of (a) general and(b) acute beds in NHS hospitals. 
§ Ms Blears
In the light of the National Beds Inquiry the NHS Plan set a target to increase the number of general and acute beds by 2,100 by 2004. Latest figures, published in September 2001, show that we are a third of the way towards reaching this target with an increase of over 700 in the number of general and acute care beds in the last year. The number of general and acute beds in national health service hospitals had been declining over the past 40 years. This is a clear indication that the downward trend is being reversed.
For three decades the prevailing orthodoxy in the NHS has been for fewer hospital beds rather than more. Patients see the consequence of that failed policy in unacceptable 677W trolley waits, long waiting times and cancelled operations. Today the NHS is growing again with an expanding number of NHS hospital beds.