Rise in hospital deaths coincides with bed-blocking

Owl isn’t sure if The Times or the British Medical Journal realise that what they are saying is:

Sick people should have been turfed out of hospitals (where they died in the charge of nurses and doctors)and should instead have been sent to die at home (with carers).

One gets included with mortality statistics, the other doesn’t … Hhhmmm!

A sharp rise in deaths in England and Wales could be down to an increase in bed-blocking in the NHS.

Between July 2014 and June 2015 there were an additional 39,074 deaths compared with the year before. For England it represented the largest rise in nearly 50 years. The higher rate of mortality has continued since, with most of the deaths in older, frail people.

About a fifth of the increased deaths may have been caused by heightened levels of delayed discharge from hospitals, a study has concluded.

While the study itself can prove only a correlation, rather than causation, the researchers said that their findings required “urgent attention”, adding: “Greater investment in the NHS and adult social care to address the rising levels of delayed discharges may be needed to tackle the rapid rise in mortality rates.”

In February, a study published by the Royal Society of Medicine concluded that cuts to health and social care were “implicated” in the deaths.

The research team from the universities of Liverpool, Oxford, Glasgow and York found that while the total number of days beds were blocked increased from 2011, the rate of change increased from 2014, with the number of affected patients also rising rapidly. For each additional acute patient delayed, the number of deaths went up 7.32.

Mark Green, lecturer in health geography at the University of Liverpool, who led the research, said: “Since 2014, the number of patients admitted for acute conditions who were delayed being discharged from hospital has almost increased by 50 per cent. This creates blockages in the NHS where beds are not available for new patients.

“We detect an association only for acute patients and not non-acute patients. Acute patients require urgent medical care and therefore may be more susceptible to any delays.”

Hospitals have laid much of the blame on social care services, with patients waiting in hospital beds for the services they need to go home.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, representing hospitals, said: “We cannot say with any certainty how much delayed transfers of care are to blame for rising death rates. However, it is clear that they are bad for patients.”

The research is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a BMJ title.

Source: Times, pay wall