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23rd March 2015

More than a million days 'lost' due to patients being unable to be discharged, new figures reveal

NHS England statistics released in March show that in the past 12 months there have been more than a million days 'lost' due to patients being unable to be discharged.

In total 1,042,434 'excess bed days' were lost due to patients being unable to be discharged, an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year’s 873,415 lost days.

As well as the increasing strain on NHS resources, 300,000 fewer people over the age of 65 are receiving state-funded social care services in England compared with 2010. With adult social care support reduced, the number of over-90s rushed to A&E by ambulance has increased by half since 2010 – from 202,537 in 2009-10 to 302,284 in 2013-14.

Labour has promised to integrate physical and mental health and social care services in England, with people given a personal care plan and a single point of contact for those with the greatest need.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “Care cuts are in fact NHS cuts ... Back in 2010 I said it would be irresponsible to safeguard the NHS budget if the way you pay for it is by raiding social care. This Parliament has borne that out completely. Care costs are the root cause of the A&E crisis."

Knock-on effect of delayed transfers hitting community and mental health services too

King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said: “Many delayed transfers of care are caused by problems accessing other parts of the NHS, such as community and mental health services, while increasing pressures on social care are also a factor. The solution must be sought in better co-ordination... and adequate funding both for the NHS and social care.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “In fact, proportionally fewer patients are being delayed in hospital as the NHS helps record numbers of patients. We’ve given a record £700m this winter for thousands more NHS staff and beds, alongside £37m for local authorities to help more people go home from hospital promptly.

“We’re also bringing health and social care services together for the first time next month to further reduce A&E admissions and get people out of hospital more quickly.”

The Department of Health said that between 2011-12 and 2013-14, the total number of days of delayed transfers rose by 2.9 per cent, but over the same period hospital admissions grew by about 3.5 per cent. In that time the delayed days attributable to social care fell by 13.6 per cent, a source said.

The Government has given an extra £37m to local authorities to tackle delayed discharges from hospitals to the social care system, and has set up a new national “Helping People Home” team to provide support to local areas in reducing delayed transfers.

Read the full story

The Independent: 'NHS feels the strain as hospital bed-blocking by elderly patients hits record levels'



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