More than 40% of British hospitals say they cannot guarantee patients will receive safe care next winter because a sum of £1bn earmarked to reduce “bedblocking” is not being spent properly.
Hospital bosses claim that many local councils are failing to put the emergency funding into schemes to help patients get home quicker by improving social care support for them.
As a result, the NHS is likely to come even closer to falling over than it did in 2016-17, according to a new report from NHS Providers, the trade association that represents most NHS trusts in England.
Government plans that the £1bn will free up 2,000-3,000 hospital beds are not being realised, it claims.
Serious problems last winter saw record numbers of hospitals temporarily unable to cope with the sheer number of patients needing treatment and unprecedented numbers of patients forced to wait – in ambulances outside A&E units and on trolleys in corridors – for a bed before they could be admitted
Chris Hopson, NHS Providers’ chief executive, said hospitals “are approaching the cliff edge” of their ability to cope next winter because many councils have not committed the money to reduce what the NHS calls “delayed transfers of care” – patients who are trapped in hospital, despite being medically fit to go, because social care to keep them safe after being discharged is unavailable.
“The forecast from the NHS frontline is clear: unless we do something now to manage the risk for next winter, there is trouble ahead,” said Hopson.
“Last winter, NHS staff responded heroically to extraordinary pressures. But safety and standards of care were compromised.
“In some places the service was overwhelmed for short periods. We must not allow that to happen again.”
Full story at The Guardian, 27 June 2017