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NHS England is pursuing extra government funding to maintain the level of permanent beds currently in acute hospitals this winter throughout next year, HSJ has learned.

NHSE is aiming to keep “core” permanent general and acute bed numbers at an average of 99,000 across 2024-25, senior sources have said.

Negotiations for the extra funding required to maintain these bed numbers are taking place between NHSE and the government as part of talks over the forthcoming planning guidance for the NHS.

It would mean the number of general and acute beds would be around 5,000 higher than the 94,500 originally planned for in 2022-23 – a key ambition in the urgent and emergency care recovery plan published a year ago.

It comes amid a stand-off in negotiations between the NHS and the government on next year’s planning guidance. There is still currently no confirmed date for its publication of the guidance – despite this key set of annual targets usually appearing in December.

Failings laid bare

Almost 18 months after the shocking BBC Panorama programme aired, which revealed a toxic culture of abuse, bullying and humiliation of patients at the medium secure Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, the independent review into failings at Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust has been published.

Review chair Professor Oliver Shanley and his team met more than 400 staff, patients and families over nearly a year and reported a catalogue of failings including concerns not being taken seriously, unsafe staffing, low morale and a disinterested and disconnected board, among many others.

The review set out a raft of other recommendations for the trust, and also says NHSE should review its position as a lead provider in the Greater Manchester provider collaborative.

In response, Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the trust, said it takes the finding seriously and accepts all the recommendations.

And of course, Greater Manchester is not the only trust with serious care quality problems in its inpatient mental health units. Over the last few years, a string of serious failings have emerged in Essex and the North East, and just this week, a special review was announced in Nottinghamshire. 

Also on today

We report that NHS England has hired three new senior directors to its estates and facilities team. Find out who they are here. And an integrated care board chair has announced he will step down this spring after an extended period of ill health.