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Published: 10/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5942 Page 23

Gordon Will, former chair, South Birmingham community health council

Your news story (page 5, 20 January) underestimates the damage that will be done to the NHS by increased private sector involvement.

Birmingham and the Black Country strategic health authority's strategic review for the period 20042010 plans for the loss of 1,405 beds (20 per cent of the total).

When called by Birmingham City Council's overview and scrutiny committee in December 2004 to explain this dramatic development, the SHA said it was under mandate from the government to move 15 per cent of provision to the independent sector.

And it said that the 7,000 additional beds promised nationally in Labour's 2001 election manifesto were history.

The shortfall would be made up by improved primary and community care, though it had no matching plans on how this would happen.

This was described by the committee chair as 'a lot of waffle' and by another councillor as 'wishful thinking'. The council committee has recalled the SHA and primary care trust in March for a better explanation.

The reality seems to be that 20 per cent of established NHS provision is to be closed down and partly substituted by 15 per cent private sector provision.

The question is: why are trust chief executives doing the complaining in your survey rather than Labour MPs elected on the strength of the manifesto?