Lack of home care creating major backlog in hospitals across England, data shows


The number of patients stuck in hospital in England despite being medically fit for discharge has risen by almost 80% since February, according to data from NHS England.

The figures, obtained by the Observer, show that the number of times hospital trusts were unable to discharge a patient who no longer met the criteria to stay in hospital increased from 223,593 in February to 402,211 in November.

In most cases, this is because of available home care packages or NHS community health provision.

Story continues below

The Observer has also obtained data on the number of days individual patients stayed in hospital after they were ready to be discharged.

NHS England stopped collecting delayed transfers of care (DTOC) statistics at the start of the pandemic, but a freedom of information request found 26 hospital trusts that are still recording these figures – with DTOC numbers rising by nearly 75% between February and October.

The news comes after a senior figure in the NHS called for a bigger share of the health and social care levy to go to care providers, to help free up capacity in hospitals across England.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS beds crisis is now so serious that as many as one in five beds in some hospitals in England are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged.

A report published by ADASS last month found that more than 1.5 million hours of commissioned home care could not be provided between August and October due to workforce shortages.

This is despite a significant increase in the number of home care hours being delivered across the country.

ADASS also estimates that almost 400,000 people are now waiting for an assessment of their needs or a service, while 41,192 people have been waiting over six months for an assessment, a 271% increase on September’s Rapid Survey.

Lord Hunt of Wirral told the House of Lords last week that the ability to meet demand for social care through recruitment, reducing the current unsustainable level of churn, remains the key to delivering the “world-class health and social care of which we are capable”.

He added: “The availability and accessibility of alternative care settings, for example at-home care, require dramatic improvement. This will require more people, more training and more money.”

Tags : ADASSbed blockinghospital dischargesworkforce shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke