'Care crisis' causing delays in hospital discharge
Published on 25 November 2013 02:00 PM
A crisis in social care is forcing more older people than ever to stay in hospital longer than necessary, NHS figures show.
Last month more than 78,000 bed days were used by patients who had no medical need to be in hospital - equivalent to 5 hospitals being out of use.
The patients could not be discharged because a lack of funding for social services meant they could not get the help they required to get them home or placed into residential care.
'Bleak reality' of social care
Age UK said the statistics highlight the 'bleak reality' of the social care crisis and reflect 'a system on the brink of collapse'.
The charity's director, Caroline Abrahams, added: 'This is not just an alarming waste of resources. Unnecessary and lengthy stays in hospital can seriously undermine an older person's recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families.'
The record number of older patients stuck needlessly in hospital results from them facing longer waiting times for a care home place, home care or adaptations to the home for those who are frail and vulnerable, Age UK said.
The statistics, which first began to be recorded in August 2010, showed there was a 20,000 rise in the number of bed days lost to delayed discharges last month compared with October 2010. A total of 78,424 days were lost thanks to delayed discharges. The last time they were nearly that high was at the height of winter pressures in January when 78,035 bed days were lost.
There are concerns that this year could be an even greater problem for the NHS as the strain continues to take its toll on A&E departments.
Health officials are calling for major changes to urgent and emergency care to ease the pressure on hospitals as the current system is not sustainable. They say the rate of hospital bed occupancy has become way too high, leaving little slack in the system when pressures increase.
They want to see improvements to treating patients closer to home, and ensuring the right help is in place so they can be discharged quicker.
Copyright Press Association 2013