More than 3,000 hospital beds across NHS trusts in the UK are blocked every year by patients awaiting home care packages, a new study has found.
Technology-enabled home care start-up Cera Care submitted Freedom of Information Requests to all NHS Trusts up and down the country to find out the number of beds blocked each year, the total number of days delayed due to beds being blocked and the reasons for this.
It found that 3,203 beds were blocked in 2018 because patients were awaiting care packages, down slightly from 3,697 in 2017.
This was the fourth biggest reason for bed blocking in 2018, behind ‘awaiting further non-acute NHS care’ (8,226 beds), ‘patient or family choice’ (5,290), and ‘awaiting nursing home placement or availability’ (3,338).
There were 29,374 beds blocked in UK hospitals in 2018, according to the study. On average, this works out to be 565 delayed discharges in UK hospitals every week.
Looking at individual NHS Trusts, this was the biggest problem in Plymouth, Leeds, Walsall, Bury and Stockton-on-Tees.
In Plymouth, delayed discharges caused 11,854 days’ worth of bed blocking in 2018, an 81% increase on 2017.
The cost per day of a delayed discharge bed varies between hospitals. For some this can be in the region of £400 to £500 every single day, with the average around £325.
For Liverpool Women’s Hospital, for example, the cost per day is £565, according to the study.
Cera Care believes that home care can play a big role in reducing bed blocking.
“One of the key reasons that many beds are blocked in hospital is down to a lack of capacity in nursing homes or residential care homes. Often it is also done at the family’s request as they might not have the resources to look after their loved one at home,” the company said in a statement.
“A solution to both of these issues would be home care. This enables that person to continue living at home and retain as much of their independence as possible. The care that they receive will be provided by a highly-professional carer and will be tailored to their specific care needs and requirements therefore, it will only assist in the areas that they need help.”
But gaining access to home care isn’t that simple. In the 700 plus days since the Government first said it would publish the Social Care Green Paper, in excess of half a million older people (626,701) have had their requests for social care refused by their council and 7,240 older people have run down all their savings because of their care bills, leaving them reliant on the State to fund their care, according to data from NHS Digital.
In that time, more than 50,000 older people have died waiting for social care packages, Age UK revealed earlier this month.
How much NHS bed blocking is down to community equipment delays? Click here to find out.