Severe cuts in local authorities’ social services provision is the major contributory factor for bed blocking says GMB
A new report from GMB, the union for staff in the health and care sector, shows that delays in providing residential and nursing home placement cause 417,748 days lost to bed blocking, 23.8% of the total. (See notes to editors for a full list of reasons for delayed transfer).
The figures also show that the number of days lost to bed blocking has increased by 27% in English hospitals between the year to January 2012 and the year to January 2016, from 1.38m to 1.76m, an increase of 376,000 days.
There were 159,089 delayed days in January 2016, compared to 150,392 in January 2015. This was the second highest number of total delayed days reported in a month since monthly data was first collected in August 2010. The highest was 160,094 days in October 2015.
There were 5,799 patients delayed at midnight on the last Thursday of January 2016, the highest number on the last Thursday of a month since data was first collected in August 2010.
|number of days – year to January 2016|
|Awaiting residential/nursing home placement/availability||Total transfer of care delays||%|
|East of England||39,651||187,371||21.2|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||26,742||144,488||18.5|
Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer said Bed blocking is choking the NHS. The economic irrationality of failing to fund social care properly is as plain as the nose on George Osborne’s face. A rise in bed blocking has gone hand in hand with the chancellor’s year on year cuts to councils’ budgets.
Hospitals are under increasing strain and these figures show that with better investment and funding of the residential and nursing care home sector more could be done to alleviate this downward spiral.
Bed blocking is the predictable result of a government policy which is demonstrably penny wise and pound foolish. 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. A hospital is not an appropriate place for these patients to be left unnecessarily.
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.”