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Bed blocking crisis – care homes offer a solution

Bed Blocking crisis to cost the NHS £3.3billion in the next five years.

This is the suggestion made by the think tank ResPublica in its report Care after Cure: creating a fast track pathway from hospitals to homes.   

The report suggests that around 8,500 people a day occupy NHS hospital beds even though they are medically fit and ready for discharge or transfer to a care home.  The delay in such transfers has been the topic of much discussion over recent years and it is evident the situation will only get worse.  The estimates show that over the next five years the cost to the NHS could rise to £3.3 billion.  The study forecasts that the same patients could be cared for in care homes whilst they wait for a discharge package or permanent care home place for a cost of £835 million over the same period, making a significant saving and freeing up NHS hospital beds to those who need them most.

The study also pointed out other risks associated with bed blocking, including a loss of independence, marked functional decline, emotional poor health and the increased risk of acquired infection.

It is therefore obvious that more work needs to be done to adequately finance care home placements to ensure that local facilities are available to people who need care and support but not necessarily a hospital bed.  This is an area where care homes could make a significant contribution and help to address this major problem faced by the majority of acute hospital trusts.

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