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NHS could needlessly waste £2.4bn

'This report provides compelling evidence that social care cannot be seen in isolation from the NHS'

1 March 2016

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A 'fast track discharge fund' would save the NHS £2.4bn in five years as more hospital beds would be freed up, a leading think tank has said.

ResPublica's report suggests that the process of transferring patients who no longer require treatment but have care needs to care homes would incur a cost of £835m by 2020/21, instead of keeping them in hospital beds which would cost £3.3bn over the same period.

The problem of 'bed blocking' in the NHS was highlighted by a report conducted by Lord Carter of Coles, which found that up to 8,500 beds are being inappropriately occupied at NHS hospitals.

'Official statistics on delayed transfers of care show a recent increase to around 5,500 patients per day,' said the report.

'However, information provided by trusts reveal that the problem could be much larger and we estimate that on any given day as many as 8,500 beds in acute trusts are blocked with patients who are medically fit to be transferred.

'The cost of these delays to NHS providers could be around £900m per year.'

Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica, firmly believes that the problem is best tackled by a better relationship between the care sector and the NHS.

'The bed blocking crisis in the NHS is only getting worse - clogging up wards and leaving newly arrived patients on trolleys in hospital corridors. Meanwhile, as ResPublica showed last year, a staggering 37,000 beds could be lost in residential care homes over the next five years because the sector is losing money for every publicly funded resident.

'To redress both of these awful situations, care homes should be given the necessary financial resources as an appropriate alternate care setting to alleviate the problem of bed blocking.'

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP and chair of the Health Select Committee, has supported Blond's argument and also called for closer ties between health and social care.

'This report from ResPublica provides compelling evidence that social care cannot be seen in isolation from the NHS,' she said.

'There is an urgent need to improve access to social care and to address the delayed transfers of care and this can no longer be side-lined by policy makers.'

 

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