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£3bn Wasted On Bed Blocking

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

GMB Welcome Independent Report Setting Out How Over £3 Billion Wasted By Nhs On Bed Blocking Should Be Used To Solve Residential Care Crisis

The residential care sector is willing and ready to help with the bed blocking crisis in the NHS says GMB.

GMB, the union for care workers, welcome the report, ‘Care after Cure: Creating a fast track pathway from hospitals to homes’ released today, (1 March 2016) by ResPublica, an independent non-partisan think tank.

The report shows that hospitals are under increasing strain in terms of capacity and finance with the NHS wasting £3.3 billion by 2020/21 caring for patients who no longer need medical treatment. This money would be better spent on a ‘Fast Track Discharge Fund’ to move vulnerable older people into the care of residential care homes.

Between 2011/12 and 2015/16 there was a 21% rise in the number of hospital beds continually ‘blocked’ due to delayed transfer of care, from 3,575 to 4,282. The report forecasts this figure could rise to 5,300 by 2010/21.

The Fast Track Discharge Fund would free up thousands of hospital beds by reducing delays with residential care homes bridging the gap by looking after recuperating patients. A pdf copy of the report and the ResPublica press release is set out at the foot of this release.

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer for the care sector said "The crippling costs to the NHS of bed blocking prove that there is no place for austerity in the funding of social care - to do so is morally indefensible and financially stupid.

The future of the NHS is intertwined with the fate of social care; as government underfunding sends social care down the pan, so the NHS is dragged with it: bed blocking rises, we spend money we don't need to spend keeping people in hospital who shouldn't be there and, to cap it all, make many of them sicker by doing so.

Proper investment now in the residential care sector, which is willing and ready to help with the bed blocking crisis in the NHS, is cheaper in the long run, better for those who should be discharged and frees beds for those who actually need to be in hospital."

Backing the report, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Select Committee, said: “This report from ResPublica provides compelling evidence that social care cannot be seen in isolation from the NHS. There is an urgent need to improve access to social care and to address the delayed transfers of care and this can no longer be side-lined by policy makers.”

Baroness Joan Bakewell, a champion for older people, said: “Care homes are vital to our community and most importantly to the people who live in them. I welcome ResPublica’s report that acknowledges the important role that care homes play in our society and proposes important mechanisms for ensuring their sustainable future.

“We value the work good care homes do and this report acknowledges this role and can contribute to securing it for the future. Helping vulnerable people with dementia to live in an environment appropriate for their needs, rather than in an environment not suitable for them, is crucial. Bed-blocking in hospitals causes great grievance to vulnerable elderly people, and this report is a great first step in helping this situation.”

Ian Smith, Chairman of Four Seasons Healthcare, said: “Discharging medically stable patients from hospital to a recovery period of care in a nursing home is a good idea that works in practice. We know because is already happening in our homes, although so far it is on a relatively small scale.

We currently have around 375 people who are recuperating in our homes while their longer term care needs are assessed and arrangements made for their ongoing care. It is freeing up hospital beds and saving NHS budgets. We recently launched a 24-7 rapid response assessment and admissions service that helps hospital discharge teams to locate care services in appropriate homes.”

Dr Chai Patel, Chairman and Acting CEO of HC-One, said: “This report provides further evidence that the crisis in our health and social care system can be avoided.

Every day hundreds of thousands of older people receive kind and quality support in care homes up and down the country. Not only does this save money for the publish purse, compared to supporting people in hospitals, it also means more hospital beds for those who need them, and crucially better care for older people who truly deserve it.

We want care homes to be part of a solution that protects our NHS and gives frail elderly people care and support when they need it most. Unless we urgently tackle this growing crisis, we risk the NHS losing billions of pounds, hundreds of care homes closing, and older people suffering needlessly in overcrowded hospital wards.”

Mike Parish, Chief Executive of care provider Care UK, said: “The most critical issue facing our NHS hospitals is inpatient and A&E congestion caused by the unnecessary admission of patients, due principally to limitations in primary care, and difficulties in discharging frail and elderly patients because of the under-funded and under-developed state of social care.

This causes unnecessary distress and harm to these patients and is immensely costly.

This can be addressed through more effective partnership and investment in better resourced and technologically enabled forms of primary and social care, and this report makes a strong case for such strategies.”

Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove who has campaigned for better care for the elderly, said: “The situation in the residential care home sector is dire at the moment. The 2% precept and the Better Care Fund are supposed to make up the gap in public spending on the social care sector, but there is little confidence that they can - or will - do this. I welcome ResPublica’s practical proposals as an important step in developing funding models for a more sustainable health and social care system.”


Contact: Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 07739 182691

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Additional Resources

Care After Cure

download pdf982Kb (pdf) - 01 March 2016

Creating a fast track pathway from hospitals to homes

ResPublica Care After Cure Release

download pdf412Kb (pdf) - 01 March 2016

Three billion wasted on bed blocking should be used to solve crisis in care