The number of intermediate care beds in Wiltshire used for intensive rehabilitation and discharge is to rise from 64 to 100 ahead of an expected increase in demand this winter.

Wiltshire Council’s cabinet unanimously approved recommendations to change the structure of short-term discharge beds. The move is a direct response to challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The model agreed by the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire health bosses will see the pre-Covid number of intermediate care beds increase and another five beds will be added for patients with delirium.

Cllr Simon Jacobs said: “Most of this capacity can be met through repurposing existing immediate care beds.

“Nevertheless, there is a shortfall of 15 intensive rehab beds in the south and west of the county and these will need to be procured.”

Funding for the bed will be provided through the Better Care Fund and will not affect the council’s budget pressures.

The scheme will allow for more beds in fewer care homes to avoid the risk of cross-contamination from staff travelling between care settings.

Any beds procured will have an initial term of two years with a break clause at 12 months, which allow flexibility in the instance there needs to be further remodelling.

Council officer James Corrigan explained they would be concentrated in the south or west of the county to manage demand more widely.

Cllr Jacobs said procurement would take place as soon as possible with the aim of having the beds available to care settings from November 1.

He added that members would be glad to know that there would be no budget pressure to the council.

Chairman of the health scrutiny committee Chuck Berry welcomed the proposals which passed through scrutiny on September 3.

He said: “We, like you, we were encouraged by the fact that, ultimately, it won’t be paid by us -the council.

“We were very pleased we have done this and hope it will be enough and we don’t’ reach a critical situation in the future.”

Likewise, opposition leader, Cllr Ian Thorne confirmed his support for the proposal.

The cabinet voted unanimously voted to approve the procurement of the care beds.