NHS spends £208 million a year on “bed blocked” elderly patients because councils fail to set up necessary help for elderly at home

Posted 28/09/12

The bed blocking figures relate to, more often than not, elderly people who, despite being declared medically fit cannot be discharged as their local council has not arranged extra home help from a carer.

Some people are blaming the delays on councils who are unable or unwilling to pay for help at home, citing budget cuts as the primary reason.

It costs the NHS an average of £255 to keep a patient in a hospital bed overnight, surely some joined up thinking would see a system put in place to provide at-home care to free up the hospital beds.

There are many care companies, like Home Instead, who are more than capable of setting up care at short notice and the cost would be far less than the cost to the NHS of keeping someone in hospital for an extra night. Apart from anything else, getting an elderly person back into their home environment as soon as they are well enough will have psychological and emotional benefits.

It’s interesting that the Home Instead office in Truro works with the private Duchy Hospital there to ensure that patients have care in place should the need it, when they leave hospital.

Patients have their needs assessed before they go in to hospital and a post-operative care plan is built around their individual needs.

Speaking about the experience with the initiative in Cornwall, Tim Roe of Home Instead’s Truro office said: “This partnership is about providing peace of mind before, during and after the hospital stay. It takes away the worry about how patients will cope at home after, for example, knee surgery or a hip replacement. In conjunction with the Duchy Hospital, our aim is to provide a comprehensive approach to post-operative care.”

Some NHS Trusts are putting similar initiatives in place. If we could get hospitals, local councils and private providers working in partnership then we could see more patients back in their own homes quicker and save the NHS many millions of pounds.