Social care problems lead to hospital bed blocking, says Age UK

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Guardian has reported that almost 2m bed days in hospitals have been wasted since 2010 because deepening problems in social care mean patients cannot be discharged, according to new research.

Some elderly patients are being trapped in hospital for up to 30 days – a day longer than four years ago, on average – while waiting to be transferred to a residential home, despite being fit to leave.

An estimated total of 1,928,255 bed days have been lost to the NHS in England since 2010, at a cost of £526m, at a time when hospitals have been under growing pressures, according to Age UK.

Drawing on official publications, the charity showed that the average wait faced by a patient needing grab rails or ramps fitted at home has risen by 11.5% to 27.3 days, while a social care package now takes 28.6 days to be arranged, 5% longer than in 2010.

Paul Ridout of Ridouts LLP has commented on the piece and states:

“This goes to the heart of the real problem about the stalled integration program for Health and Social Care and the infighting and turf protection around the Better Care Fund.

Taking Age UK’s figures at face value that suggests a hospital bed cost of about £275 per day- Ridouts consider that to be a conservative estimate probably skewed by averaging to include some lower priced areas.

There is capacity in the residential care sector and £100 per day buys a good package.Good negotiation could reduce that to £75/85 per day leaving a saving of £190- £200 per day not even considering the value of more appropriate care placement.

Why can’t Social Services, the NHS and care providers energise constructive discussion to remedy this eminently soluble problem? Should that not be a priority for Better Care Fund integration spend?

Ridouts is considering hosting a Summit to facilitate a kick start for such discussions”.

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