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Urgent Need To Boost Social Care To Tackle Pressure Of ‘Delayed Discharges’ On NHS Beds

Figures from Liberal Democrats show that up to one in three hospital beds in England are taken up by ‘delayed discharge’ patients.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has expressed concern that the failure to solve the social care crisis may be the cause of increasing delays facing older patients in accident and emergency (A&E).

New data from freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that more than 153,000 patients were forced to wait over 24 hours in A&E before being admitted into hospital last year.

This is 10 times worse compared to figures from 2019 and is a 16% increase from 2022.

Sir Ed said: “It is appalling that so many elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to put up with these terrifying waits, as our health service teeters on the brink.

“These numbers expose the reckless damage done by this Conservative government’s neglect of the NHS and care.”

The King’s Fund has calculated it costs the NHS £395 a night to care for someone when they could be discharged. The direct costs of delayed discharges in 2022/23 was £1.9 billion.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive, NHS Providers, said:
“Thousands of hospital beds are taken up every day by patients stuck in hospital when they don’t need to be, often because of the strain on overstretched social care and community services.

“Persistent delays discharging patients who are fit enough to continue recovery at or close to home adds to the growing pressure right across the health and care system. The knock-on effects on people, accident and emergency departments and ambulances waiting to hand over patients are huge.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’re taking action to ensure the health and care system works closely together to tackle delayed discharge, including investing an additional £1 billion this year to support the NHS and local authorities to ensure timely and effective discharge from hospital.

“The government has now made available up to £8.6 billion in additional funding over financial years 2023-24 and 2024-25 to strengthen adult social care provision and discharge.”

“Long overdue reform and adequate, sustainable funding of social care is needed urgently if we are to address the worrying number of delayed discharges.”

 

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