A recent report published by Respublica suggests that Care Homes could help ease the pressure on NHS services by taking on patients that are stuck in hospitals following treatment. The cost to the NHS of this blocking of beds is estimated to be £3.3bn over the next 5 years. The number of patients in these beds looks set to rise by almost a quarter in the next 5 years also.
Every day there are just over 4,000 patients who are stuck in hospital who do not have a place to be discharged to and this makes up more than 4% of all beds in hospital.
The solution points to the NHS paying care homes to take on patients who don’t have suitable places to go to following their treatment to recuperate. The cost to the NHS is not just financial with patients staying in hospital longer following their treatments. Patients are exposed to the increased chance of catching an infection and also the associated negative emotional impact caused by prolonged stays in hospital.
The cost to the NHS of caring for patient who were previously in blocked beds would be £835 million across the next 5 years which is a quarter of the anticipated cost such patients would cause if they remained in hospital over the same period.
This additional money could help care homes maintain their own cashflow issues as well as ease the cost to the NHS of providing for patients who are only in hospital because they have no place to go. If implemented correctly, it would appear to be a workable solution to the bed blocking crisis that has beset the NHS of late whilst also providing the social care sector with some much needed funding.