Many countries have decided to reduce the number of hospital beds. Some have succeeded by making a sustained investment in alternative facilities, but some have been so successful that they now face shortages, meaning growing waiting lists and difficulties in admitting acutely ill patients. Other countries have had more difficulty reducing the number of beds, especially where hospital ownership is dispersed among several organizations. Some central and eastern European countries have faced problems in trying to apply reforms without fully adjusting policies to their particular socioeconomic context, human resources and stakeholders. This report is HEN's response to a question from a decision-maker. It provides a synthesis of the best available evidence, including a summary of the main findings and policy options related to the issue.
McKee, M. What are the lessons learnt by countries that have had dramatic reductions of their hospital bed capacity? World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark (2003) 21 pp.