Government considering 'hospital hotels'
Published on 23 April 2013 11:00 AM
Older patients could soon recover from illnesses or falls in 'hospital hotels' after the Government confirmed it was considering the idea.
The proposals, which are based on a system used in Scandinavia, aim to ease so-called bed-blocking on NHS wards.
Major hotel chains run the services, providing patients with the level of care they need in order to make a full recovery.
NHS England, the new body responsible for recommending how local doctors' groups should provide for their patients, has been asked to review the scheme.
What is bed-blocking?
It's estimated that 30,000 people each year remain in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged.
Bed-blocking can happen when patients no longer require specialist medical treatment in a hospital, but still need more support than can be given at home.
Health minister Earl Howe said work was being carried out on whether 'the Scandinavian model' could help to free up more hospital beds in England.
However, he added that local commissioning groups had 'freedom and responsibility' to develop their own 'innovative' ways to deal with problems.
Trial system in place
Some hospitals are already trying a patient hotel system, although Baroness Greengross, a cross-bench peer who has investigated the issue of bed-blocking, admits they 'are not doing it on the scale, or as well as Scandinavia'.
She believes the idea could be a success, suggesting that unused NHS buildings on hospital campuses could be converted by hotel companies.
'The idea is that if you go into hospital and you don't need acute care, which a lot of old people particularly don't, or you've had a difficult pregnancy and you need access to specialist care but you don't need it most of the time, you are immediately moved out of a hospital to something run by a hotel,' said Lady Greengross.
'It is of course much cheaper than being in a hospital. The family can help because they can go in at any time because you're in a private room.'
Copyright Press Association 2013