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Over one million NHS days lost since 2010

Published on 14 May 2013 09:30 AM

Over one million NHS days lost since 2010 to people waiting for social care.

People are having to wait on average 13% longer in hospital(1) before finding a place in a residential care home, compared to when the Government came to power.

Now those waiting to be transferred to a care home wait on average 30.3 days - costing the NHS £7575 each on bed and board costs alone.

An NHS bed costs on average around £250(2) a day - compared to the £524(3) average weekly cost of residential care.

Those waiting for a social care package to be put together in their own home are also having to wait 12.8%  longer - on average 27 days. Whilst those needing adaptations such as grab rails or ramps to be fitted in their home now wait nearly 10.4% longer spending an average of nearly 27 days in hospital on average compared to 25.8 when the Government came to power.

Overall the underlying trend for days lost to delayed discharge is up by 1.5% from 1,360,230 in 2010/11 to a projected total of 1,381,445 for 2012/13. 

In total in 2012/13 nearly 36% of the total number of delayed discharge days in the last year are linked to waiting for social care provision. 

The total estimated cost to the NHS of delayed discharge linked to waiting for social care provision since the Government came to power is £260million - or over one million NHS days (1,040,193).

Age UK welcomes the Government's vision announced today of joined up health and community care but cautions that for the vision to become reality, there needs to be good social care provision in place with sufficient funding.

Over the last two years most local authorities have been struggling to balance the books as their budgets have been slashed. Since the Government came to power, £710million in real terms has in turn been cut from social care budgets, mostly through reduced local authority funding.

According the care sector experts Laing and Buisson, in 2010/11 51% of care home places were bought by local authorities, with a further 10% funded by local authorities through direct payments.

Of the estimated £7.8 billion pounds spent annually on non-residential social care, £4billion was spent by English local authorities.

Over the last two years, many councils have raised their eligibility criteria meaning that older people have to be more frail and disabled to qualify for help. There are only a small handful of councils who now provide care to those assessed as having "moderate" care needs - broadly those who are unable to carry out three or four domestic or personal tasks such as washing, preparing a meal, getting dressed or brushing your teeth.

Only those with more severe limitations assessed as "substantial" or "critical" are able to get any help from most councils.

There is no age breakdown available for patients affected by delayed discharge. On average 68% of local authority funded social care is provided to those over 65 and 77% of residential home places are occupied by that age group.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK: 'Waiting in hospital needlessly not only wastes NHS resources but it can also undermine an older person's recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result.

'We are very worried that the growing crisis in social care is having a significant impact on the length of time that older people are having to stay in hospital waiting for social care support to be put in place.

'The steep rise in the length of time people are waiting for a care home place, home care or adaptations - significantly above the general rise in delayed discharge waits - suggests that something has gone seriously wrong in the transition from hospital to home or residential care during the time when we know social care spending has fallen dramatically.

'We need the Care Support Bill to be twinned with both an emergency injection of funds to shore up the current system and a long term commitment to finding sufficient resources to make sure that every older person gets the care they need, when they need it.'


Media contact: Fiona Callister
Tel: 020 3033 1439
Out of hours:  07071 243 243


Notes to editors

(1) Source: Department of Health (2013); Delayed transfer of Care NHS Organisations, England
(2) "The unit cost of operating an NHS hospital bed is approximately £200-£300 per day". Management of NHS hospital productivity, National Audit Office 2010. For simplicity Age UK has assumed £250 as the daily cost of an NHS bed.
(3) Laing & Buisson Care of Elderly People, UK Market Survey 2011/12. 

Age UK
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity). 


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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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