Mixed reception for hospital discharge scheme

The government announcement of an extra £200 million to move patients fit to discharge from NHS beds to care homes, and other settings, has received a mixed reception – NHS leaders say they need the money as soon as possible to begin freeing up beds and are concerned there will be delays, in contrast social care leaders warn that the pressure to discharge patients fast has already led to inappropriate placements and the scheme is just another “sticking plaster” that doesn’t address the long-term problems.

There are an estimated 13,000 people in NHS hospitals that are fit to discharge and the scheme, announced by Health and Social Care secretary Steve Barclay, aims to free-up around 2,500 beds by funding “maximum stays of up to four weeks per patient” in care homes or other settings. The scheme runs for just three months to the end of March 2023.

The scheme is similar to the national discharge scheme begun in 2020 as the NHS needed beds for Covid patients, which led to thousands of patients moving out into care homes. Funding for this scheme ended in April 2022.

This £200m is in addition to the £500m adult social care discharge fund (ASCDF), announced in September 2022. However, Barclay claims that the extra £200m means the NHS will be able to “immediately buy up beds in the community.”

Full story in The Lowdown, 16 January 2023