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24th April 2013

Welsh Health Minister announces plans to tackle delays discharging patients awaiting care decisions

New Welsh Government Health Minister Mark Drakeford has pledged to tackle delays in discharging patients caused by wrangling over who will pay for future care.

'Bed-blocking' delays can occur when the NHS and social services argue who needs to pay for a patient's ongoing care. They can also occur while patients wait for a place in their care home of choice.

Mr Drakeford said patients should leave hospital as soon as they are ready to be discharged and not continue to occupy beds.

Bed-blocking delays are exacerbating the pressures on A&E departments which some consultants and nurses have recently described as being at breaking point.

Minister promises 'suitable care setting' while issues solved

In a statement to AMs Mr Drakeford promised a change of policy which will see patients transferred to suitable "out of hospital" interim accommodation while funding issues are resolved.

He said they, "should not, and in future will not, remain in hospital until the financial issue is resolved."

In some cases patients remain in hospital because they are waiting for a place to become available at a home of their choice. Such people should go to interim accommodation, Mr Drakeford said.

"Of course, anyone must have the right to pursue the long-term care arrangements which are best for them," said Mr Drakeford.

"That does not, and cannot, amount to a right to occupy an acute hospital bed while those arrangements are being realised," he added.


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