Patients wait up to nine months to be discharged from NHS hospitals in England despite being medically fit to leave, according to “shocking” figures that will press ministers to tackle the welfare crisis.
Health experts say the incredibly delayed discharges are further evidence of the impact of a shortage of social care beds and supplies to get patients home safely.
The backlogs are also wreaking havoc on hospitals, with some A&Es unable to admit patients in need of urgent or emergency care because hospital beds are being filled by medically fit patients.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the social care crisis was “paralyzing the flow of patients in many hospitals” and had created an “absolutely miserable situation”. She added that “low wages and poor conditions” in the care sector were partly to blame.
Late discharges occur when often elderly patients are ready to leave the hospital, but before they are sent home, social care teams must make arrangements to ensure they are safe.
This could include supportive measures such as handrails, ramps, caregiver support, or possible arrangements for someone to move into a nursing home.
Budget cuts have meant that social care teams are struggling to cope with a growing number of people requiring adult care.
the Health Service Journal conducted an analysis across seven NHS trusts that have historically struggled with delayed discharges.
Their freedom of information requests found that in North Bristol trust that one patient waited more than nine months to be discharged, while another waited around eight months.
North Cumbria and Gloucestershire Hospitals Integrated Care Foundation Trust National Health Service trust foundation each had patients who waited at least six months.
Royal United Bath reported one case over five months old, while Dorset County Hospital, Mid Cheshire Hospitals and the Stockport NHS foundation each rely on reported cases involving delays of three months or more.
The trusts said most of the long delays were due to a lack of home care, while other factors included waiting for equipment in people’s own homes, according to HSJ.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “It is absolutely horrifying that patients who are fit to leave hospital are stuck in hospital beds for up to nine months. It’s a shocking waste of the best part of a year of someone’s life.
“This is the cost of the conservatives’ failure on social care over the last 12 years.”
a real united hospitals The Bath NHS Foundation Trusted Spokesperson said: “The RUH, like other hospitals across the country, is experiencing challenges in discharging patients who require further support in the community from social care providers. or community.
The spokesman said the trust had launched a home care agency, United Care Bath and North East Somerset, with the council to help patients get home with the necessary level of home care.
The NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire integrated care board said: “Stays of several hundred days are rare and typically involve very complex cases with people who require significant continuing care needs outside the hospital setting.”
The board said it was spending £17m to tackle delayed downloads.