An investigation has found that NHS hospital bed blocking has reached its highest level in four years, despite warnings that the lack of social care is bringing the NHS ‘to its knees’.
The figures indicate that doctors and nurses are, on a daily basis, unable to discharge in excess of 1000 patients who no longer require hospital treatment as there is no further care available for them in the community or at home.
Sky News has undertaken analyses of the latest health service statistics and found that on a single day in September, 4966 patients could not be transferred to other sections of the NHS or to local authority care. This is the highest number since September 2010.
During that month, 138068 care days were lost due to delays in care transfers. As the cost of a hospital bed stands at £250 per day, the figures suggest that the NHS is wasting in excess of £34m per month taking care of patients who no longer need to be in hospital.
More than 25% of the delays were attributed to a lack in social care, which has experienced a significant drop in funding since the Coalition started to govern.
Chiefs at the NHS said that higher levels of bed blocking results in overcrowding in hospitals as those patients who need the beds are unable to obtain it. This results in a blockage in the A&E departments and ambulances not being able to deliver patients.
The chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network (FTN), Chris Hopson, said this is taking the NHS back 15 years to when the institution was regarded as an international joke because patients had to wait years for treatment and wait most of the day for treatment in an A&E department. He said nobody wants to revisit that place, but you get what you pay for.
A recent survey done by Cambridge University NHS Trust revealed that 18% of acute adult inpatient beds were being occupied by patients who could move on as their clinical care had been completed.
According to shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, there are thousands of people who are trapped in hospital. He said rather than facing the challenges of an aging society, elderly care is worsening. He said we currently have a system which hospitalises instead of providing basic support in patient’s homes.
Local authorities are supposed to provide community and at-home social care, but the recent cuts to their budgets have affected their efficiency levels.
This issue will be discussed on Tuesday at the FTN’s annual conference.
Image Credit: Lee Haywood