§ Mrs. Iris Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many acute hospital beds there were in Northern Ireland on 1 January(a) 1983, (b) 1993, (c) 2002 and (d) 2003. 
§ Angela Smith
The average numbers of available acute hospital beds are provided in the table.
Average number of acute beds 1983 7,404.3 1993 5,218.2 2002 4,292.6 2003 4,351.0
1. Figures for 1983 are the average number available across the year.
2. Figures for 1993, 2002 and 2003 are the average number available in the quarter from 1 January to 31 March.
3. Figures for 2003 are provisional.
4. Figures on the average number of available beds along with other information on hospital activity in Northern Ireland are published each September in the Department's annual Hospital Statistics publication. This is available in the House of Commons Library and from the Department's website: http://www. dhsspsni.gov.uk/stats&research/order.html
The decrease in the average number of acute beds reflects the greater number of procedures undertaken as day cases, higher occupancy rates and a reduction in the average length of stay.
The average number of available beds refers only to those in wards which are open overnight, measured at midnight. Hospitals may also have a number of beds in wards which are only open during the day. Beds reserved for day care admission or regular day admission are not included.
The figures for 1983 may not be entirely consistent with those for later years as the descriptions of the specialties that make up the acute programme of care have changed.