Nursing shortages fuelling delayed discharge from hospital

There is no doubt that delays in arranging follow-on social care are causing more older people to be stranded in hospital. But a new analysis of the problem says shortage of district nurses is at least as big a factor.

The number of district nurses in the UK has plummeted by 44% since 2010 when counted as full-time jobs, according to the analysis of NHS data by consultancy Christie & Co (pdf).

The trend is described as a “key trigger” of hospital admissions of older people and of subsequent delayed discharge. District and other community nurses play a crucial role in treating people in their own homes or in care homes when they might otherwise be referred to hospital.

Since 2008, numbers of people aged 60 and over admitted to hospital have soared 65%, the analysis finds.

Michael Hodges, head of care consultancy at Christie & Co, says ministers are missing the bigger, more complex picture behind delayed discharge by focusing narrowly on blockages in the social care system.

“We need to take a much more rounded view of the whole health and social care system,” he says, “including workforce planning for essential roles like district and community nurses and a proper assessment of what more social care providers could offer to ease pressure on hospitals.”

Artiucle from The Guardian, 20 July 2017