Hospital overcrowding caused by ‘political maladministration’, say MPs

Hospitals have become dangerously full and discharge patients too soon as a direct result of “political maladministration” by successive governments, according to a committee of MPs.

The failure to join health and social care services means that one in five patients are at risk of either getting stuck in hospital or being released before they are fit to go, according to a report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs select committee (PACAC).

So-called bedblocking costs the NHS in England about £820m a year, according to National Audit Office estimates.

The cross-party committee is highly critical of governments down the years for allowing two public services that need to work closely together to remain separate. “At a structural level, the historic split between health and social care means that interdependent services are being managed and funded separately. We consider this to be political maladministration,” the committee says in a report about unsafe patient discharges from hospital.

The MPs blame the split for creating a situation in which many hospitals become overcrowded and send patients home before they are fit to leave, in order to free up beds. “Pressures on resources and capacity within hospitals are leading to worrying and unsafe discharge practices,” the report says.

Full story in The Guardian 28 September 2016