AN MP has challenged NHS bosses over controversial hospital bed cuts - saying she wants answers on how many people use them.

Harriett Baldwin is calling for the publication of figures on the number of patients going into Worcestershire's small community hospitals before the axe falls.

The Conservative has also revealed how health trust officials have considered "mothballing" beds during private meetings with her, which led to the MP fiercely resisting it.

As the Worcester News first revealed in November the beds across five mini hospitals in Malvern, Pershore, Evesham, Tenbury and Bromsgrove face a shock 44 per cent reduction.

It would reduce the beds from 324 to just 182, under a dramatic proposal by Worcestershire's Health and Care Trust.

The small hospitals are crucial in taking pressure off sites likes Worcestershire Royal Hospital, sparking serious concern - with Mrs Baldwin saying she wants them used "more, not less".

Three of the five community hospitals are in her West Worcestershire constituency.

"I've seen statements from the trust saying they don't plan to close down any community hospital, and I welcome this assurance," she said.

"I've asked the trust to share the data on community hospital bed usage, and we will be able to make a case to protect the beds for people needing step-down care after a serious operation or palliative care.

"We need to show just how highly valued community hospitals like Malvern, Tenbury and Pershore really are to local people."

The shrinkage is part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), an 83-page dossier produced under serious pressure from NHS England to transform healthcare.

The health and care trust says it wants to put more money into at-home services, funding a wave of nurses and other health professionals to go into people's own homes and keep the sick out of hospital.

If the plan goes live the beds at Worcestershire's three main hospitals are also set to fall, from 743 to 740 - with Worcester royal being expanded but sites at Redditch and Kidderminster having less.

The watchdog Healthwatch has already called the aim "a big ask", with the STP currently out on what health chiefs call a period of 'engagement' with the public.

A Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust spokesman said: “We have no plans to close community hospitals and think they could do even more than they currently do.

"For example there are some appointments and treatments at the acute sites which could be provided from a local community hospital.

"We also want to improve our wider community services, which include nurses which visit people at home.

"While our community hospitals need to have capacity to meet future demand and support the wider system, if we make these improvements then more people will get cared for at home, which could over time reduce the need for some beds."

He said the 44 per cent reduction was based on "high level modelling" and that bed occupancy figures would be released if a proper policy was put forward for detailed consultation at a later date.

Worcestershire's community hospitals face shock 44% cut in beds

Worcestershire MPs voice concern over shock proposals to cut community hospital beds