Of course, in our area, and o its eastern side in particular, the problem of blocked beds is solved – by having no beds to block!
“Elderly patients are caught in a growing row between the NHS and councils over who is to blame for failing to reduce bed-blocking.
Councils have accused ministers of scapegoating after they were threatened with fines if they did not do enough to get patients out of hospital beds.
Hospitals have struggled even during the quieter summer months and warnings of a severe flu outbreak have left NHS leaders anxious about how they will cope this winter.
NHS England has said that unless 2,500 beds were freed by getting elderly patients off wards, there would not be enough staff to go round.
“Hospitals rightly tell us there simply are not ‘surplus’ non-employed nurses available to open yet further hospital beds to compensate for the failure to sort delayed transfers of care,” Pauline Philip, national director for emergency care at NHS England, wrote last week to NHS and council bosses.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, went further, telling councils: “Improvements are neither consistent nor yet significant and the overall rate of improvement remains a considerable distance from where it needs to be.”
Figures published last week showed an average of 5,809 beds occupied every day in August by a patient who did not need to be there, a fall of only 4 per cent in a year.
Mr Hunt and Mr Javid warned 32 councils not meeting targets to reduce-bed-blocking that they could withhold their share of a £2 billion boost for social care promised in the budget.
“We will be looking for significant performance improvements in the September data,” they said. “We reserve the right to reduce the published allocation for a council should performance continue to fail to improve.” NHS chiefs insist that they are simply reminding local authorities of what they are meant to be doing but councils argue that a focus on spending money on bed-blocking will lead to older people being denied care in their homes.
Lord Porter of Spalding, Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “These letters are hugely unhelpful at a time when local government and the NHS need to work together to tackle the health and social care crisis . . . We urge the government and the NHS to focus equally on preventing people going to hospital as we are on helping people quickly to get out of hospital.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “While these arguments rage on in the corridors of power you couldn’t blame older people for feeling that their best interests are not always at the forefront of health and care leaders’ minds. Older people badly need these disputes to be resolved.“
Source: Times (pay wall)