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Bed blocking- fines are not helping, can we?

The heralds of winter have been apparent of late with temperatures plummeting to a chilly 8 degrees C.

Inevitably we will see more pressure placed on our NHS, more stress coming the way of our care home providers to find step-down beds and the prospect of health levying fines on local authorities which cannot find suitable placements to free up ward space.

In March this year the BBC reported that more than 2,500 hospital beds a day are taken up by patients whose release has been delayed due to problems in the social care system.

The Local Government Association said under-funded authorities had placed care providers under "huge pressure".

Although the NHS is responsible for most delayed transfers, the number attributable to social care has been increasing as well.

The Beeb reported: “Out of 1.87 million delayed days between April 2016 and the end of January 2017, just over 1 million were down to the NHS. There were 635,000 where social care was responsible and 145,000 that were a mixture of both.”

Added into the complexities of the familiar ‘winter beds crisis’ are the issues of the fines.

The LGA has sought reassurances that councils will not fall victim to ‘completely counter-productive’ fines imposed by acute hospitals in cases where delayed transfers of care are deemed to be the fault of councils.

So far, according to The Times, one in six councils in England have been fined by the NHS for bed-blocking as the health service and local government go to war over social care provision.

We have been approached by a number of Trusts to help. What we are looking at is trusted Assessors. The Association would employ a person who is based at the hospital. When someone is ready to be discharged our Assessor does the assessment and supplies the details to the Homes or the Home Care Provider. The Manager can then decide if they can accept them or not. The beauty of this system is that the Assessor will only give true information about the behavior of the service user, ensuring a quicker and more reliable transfer. We hope to also be able to include ensuring medication is available and ambulances are booked. This will:

·         Save beds for the Trusts

·         It saves money for the NHS and Local Authority even though they pay for the service

·         Save time for the Homes and Home Care Providers

·         Ensure that Service Users get out of Hospital quicker to a realistic Homes without having to go back to hospital because of a wrong placement.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that social care in some cases is seen to be at fault because it has no suitable provision. We do have some answers; the question is can the powers that be go for it?