Fresh call for joined up approach on hospital discharge

Care England has welcomed the National Audit Office’s report on Discharging Older People from Acute Hospitals, and has called on the Government to join up health and social care, by using and building capacity in care homes.

The report states that there are far too many older people in hospitals who do not need to be there. Without radical action to increase social care funding now and in the future, this problem will worsen and add further financial strain to the NHS and local government.

The NAO estimated discharge delays were costing £820 million a year and it warned they also put older patients at risk because they lose mobility during extended stays. The report follows record levels of delays this winter because of a lack of support available in the community.

Professor Martin Green

Professor Martin Green

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England said: “The National Audit Office’s report highlights, yet again, the blockages in the system. It estimates that 85 per cent of patients subjected to delayed discharges are aged 65 and over. As we have always maintained, shaving money off social care is false economy for the NHS. Older people are getting a raw deal owing to short-termism, and a lack of understanding of the costs of care and the route to timely discharge. This is depriving older people of their health, independence and dignity.”

He added: “Often, older people are ready to be discharged from hospital, but they lack the necessary ongoing support. The discharge process needs to be better managed and planned; not forgetting the role that care homes can play in offering step-down and intermediary care, if they can be sustained by realistic funding levels.”

The report echoes the findings of the Alzheimer’s Society Fix Dementia Care: Hospitals campaign which highlighted poor care for people with dementia in hospitals and poor practice in the discharging of patients.

George McNamara

George McNamara

George McNamara, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Society said: “The fact that so-called ‘bed-blocking’ in hospitals has risen by a third in two years is unacceptable – and comes at a huge human and financial cost.

“Our Fix Dementia Care campaign found that substandard care and poor discharge processes can have devastating, life-changing consequences for people with dementia, who occupy a quarter of hospital beds. Too many are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite the completion of their medical treatment, affecting whether they stand any chance of returning to their own home or not.

“Not only is this a waste of taxpayers’ money, but also further evidence of a health and social care system that is not joined-up or adequately funded to ensure the best possible care for people with dementia. It is vital that we get this right for people affected by the condition.”

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