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Frustration over 'bed-blocker' rise
5:16pm Tuesday 31st July 2012 in Wiltshire
The number of patients in Wiltshire delayed from being discharged from hospital has increased fivefold in the past year.
The patients – sometimes referred to as bed blockers – are well enough to leave hospital, but are unable to do so because a package of care to support them to live at home is not in place, they are awaiting assessment or a care home place has not been found for them.
The responsibility for the patient’s care lies with either Wiltshire Council’s social services department or NHS Wiltshire, depending on whether the patient has a health or social care need.
At a board meeting of NHS Wiltshire last week chairman Tony Barron spoke of his frustration that the number of people delayed from being discharged from hospital was 65 compared to 13 last August.
He said: “I just feel totally defeated on this issue. It has got to stop being a stick-on, it has to be part of the culture to not have delayed transfers of care.”
Mary Monnington, director of nursing at NHS Wiltshire, said: “One of the main sticking points, I understand, is the fact Wiltshire Council doesn’t have either the capacity or the funding to move people on in a timely fashion.”
Maddie Ferrari, commissioning manager at NHS Wiltshire, said of the 65 patients waiting to be discharged 39 were the responsiblity of Wiltshire Council, 20 were the responsibility of the NHS and six were joint responsibility.
Eighteen of the patients were in community hospital beds of which 14 were the responsibility of Wiltshire Council comprising seven waiting for assessments, five waiting for care home placement and two waiting for packages of care.
In addition 21 patients were waiting to be discharged from the Royal United Hospital in Bath (of which nine were waiting to transfer to a community hospital bed), 11 were in mental health facilities, eight were in Salisbury District Hospital and seven were in Great Western Hospital, Swindon.
The most common reasons for delay were 33 waiting for a care home place, 11 waiting for a care package and seven waiting for an assessment.
Dr Steve Rowlands, a Trowbridge GP and chairman of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said GPs had set up three groups to work with Wiltshire Council to solve the problem.
Wiltshire Council deputy leader John Thomson said there had been a rise in the numbers of people being admitted into acute hospitals and this has had an impact on those awaiting discharge.
He said within the last year there had been an increase in the number of patients delayed where speciality residential or nursing care is required because of dementia.
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