In a new report by the National Audit Office it is alleged that the size of the bed blocking problem has been drastically underestimated. Whilst official figures for the number of delayed transfers stands at 1.15 million beds last year, the National Audit Office’s figures suggest over double this amount.
The cost of this problem stands at £820 million which is something that could be avoided with swifter arrangement of care, in particular post hospital visits. The other important issue found in the report is that 85% of those that are subject to delayed transfers are aged 60 years or older.
The report states that spending on adult social care by local authorities has reduced by 10% in real terms since 2009/10. There are rewards for hospitals to discharge patients in a timely fashion but there is no similar reward for local authorities and community health organisations to ensure that they ensure that patients are received on time.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office said of the report:
“The number of delayed transfers has been increasing at an alarming rate but does not capture the true extent of older people who should not be in hospital. While there is a clear awareness of the need to discharge older people from hospital sooner, there are currently far too many older people in hospitals who do not need to be there. Without radical action, this problem will worsen and add further strain to the financial sustainability of the NHS and local government.”