NHS bed blocking crisis: 282k patients remain in hospital due to cruel Tory cuts
More than 280,000 elderly patients were stuck in hospital this winter after Tory budget cuts triggered an “unprecedented” social care crisis.
A damning report today exposes the growing problem of delayed transfers of care – or bed blocking – which is up 30% on the same period last year.
Almost 70% of nurses admitted they were “frequently” delaying discharging older patients because there was no one to care for them at home or in the community.
Nearly all of the NHS staff described it as a “serious” problem and 82% said it had got worse in the past year.
Older persons’ charity the Royal Voluntary Service, which provided the figures, said more than 4,000 patients were blocking beds every day.
Bed blocking – up 30% in a year
Its head David McCullough said: “This winter we’ve seen delays in hospital discharge reach unprecedented levels, with lack of support for older people after hospital a root cause.
“While additional funding has been allocated in some areas to address the crisis, many authorities and hospital trusts are still facing budget cuts.”
The Tory-led Coalition has slashed £1billion from social care budgets, leaving hospitals struggling to arrange support from care workers and district nurses. In total there were 281,982 delayed discharges this winter.
That was up 30% from the 216,797 in the same period last year.
Older patients languishing when fit to be discharged
Number blocking beds every day
Nurses ‘frequently’ delaying elderly discharges
The Government insisted it had given the NHS an extra £700million this winter to fund extra staff and beds.
Yet today’s report found 40% of older patients ended up languishing in hospital when they were fit to discharged. Experts said being left in limbo in such a way was extremely distressing.
Another cause of the problem is older people’s families demanding staff keep them in hospital for longer – even when their relative is well enough to leave.
More than half of nurses said they had experienced such pressure.
One in 10 nurses said their hospital had resorted to eviction notices on patients and families to free up beds.
The scandal is also having a huge impact on A&E waiting times because there are fewer beds for new admissions.
David Buck, of health think-tank The King’s Fund, said: “Delayed discharges are a key indicator of the performance of not only hospitals, but how our overall health and care systems are working.”
Labour wants to integrate health and social care if it wins the general election. It has also vowed to recruit at least 5,000 NHS staff to care for patients at home.