Medically-fit patients are having to wait up to NINE MONTHS to be discharged amid NHS bed-blocking crisis
- About 13,000 patients well enough leave couldn’t be discharged each day in July
- Some patients have been found to waiting for over half-a-year to be released
- Hospitals blamed the long-waits on lack of at-home-care and equipment delays
- Bed-blockers help fuel the A&E crisis by taking up space from other patients
The NHS bed-blocking crisis was laid bare today by shock data that revealed some patients are having to wait nine months to be discharged — despite being declared medically fit to leave enough to leave.
Nearly 13,000 hospital beds, one in seven, are filled with patients healthy enough for discharge.
They should be moved to a care home or offered home support, but staff shortages in the social care sector mean many languish on wards for weeks.
The problem, which contributes to fatal ambulance delays, has only worsened since the start of the year.
A Freedom of Information investigation by HSJ of some of the worst performing NHS trusts in England uncovered some of the most horrifying waits.
One patient deemed medically-fit at North Bristol Trust waited over nine months to be discharged, with another patient forced to wait eight.
The publication also found waits of six months at the North Cumbria Integrated Care Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust.
This chart shows the average daily number of patients well enough to leave but unable to be discharged from NHS hospitals in England. It shows how the crisis has grown worse since December, with more bed-blockers in the health service now than during the traditionally busy winter
Britain faces a ‘winter of discontent’ in the NHS with a ‘distinct possibility’ doctors will strike over pay, one of the country’s top medics has warned.
Philip Banfield, chairman of the British Medical Association, said doctors are having to decide daily which patients live or die because of the ‘terrible state’ of the NHS.
He called for an inflation-busting pay rise of up to 30 per cent next year and said Liz Truss’ plan to divert £10billion a year from the health service to social care was ‘bonkers’.
The NHS is staring down the barrel of its worst winter ever, with A&E and ambulance waits already at record levels and swelling backlogs for scans and routine care.
Junior doctors have issued ministers with an ultimatum for the end of September — warning they will vote on strike action if their 2 per cent pay offer is not upped.
Consultants and specialist doctors are also mulling industrial action over their proposed 4 per cent salary increase, which they say amounts to a real-term pay cut.
Dr Banfield told The Times: ‘We don’t walk out because we want to walk out right. No one goes on strike for the sake of it.
‘We’re not planning a winter of discontent, but it would not surprise me if this government walked into that situation.’
Royal United Bath Foundation Trust reported a case of a patient waiting five months to be discharged.
Waits of over three months were recorded Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, and Stockport Foundation Trust.
The trusts said the majority of delays were caused by a lack of staff capable of giving care in patients homes.
Another factor cited was the need to wait for specialist equipment, such as machines that help people breathe, to be installed in patients own homes.
Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Wes Streeting, said leaving patient no option but to stay 9 month extra months in hospital was unacceptable.
‘It is absolutely horrifying that patients who are fit to leave hospital are then stuck in hospital beds for up to 9 months,’ he said.
‘It’s a shocking waste of the best part of a year of someone’s life.
‘This is the cost of the Conservatives’ failure on social care over the past 12 years.’
The number of patients fit enough to be discharged but stuck in hospitals has grown sharply since the start of the year.
MailOnline analysis of NHS England statistics show there were an average of 12,900 ‘bed-blockers’ on any day in July.
This is about 2,500 more than in last December, considered part of the traditionally busier winter period in the NHS.
Patients who can’t live independently face lengthy waits for care assessments, home help or care home place, during which time they remain in hospital.
They often require assistance with basic daily tasks such as washing, cooking and dressing.
A lack of capacity in social care is driving the problem.
Charities have repeatedly warned about the growing staffing crisis in social care with many supermarkets now offering higher per-hour wages.
There are currently 165,000 vacancies in adult social care in England, meaning around one in ten positions is unfilled, according to the charity Skills for Care.
With the cost-of-living crisis looming over many Britons for social care workers, the temptation to seek a larger salary can prove too great.
Bed-blocking is also contributing to the nation’s A&E crisis, with ambulances in some cases unable to offload patients and forced to wait in hospital carparks due to the lack of a bed.
Category two calls, which include emergencies like heart attacks and strokes, now have an average response time of 59 minutes compared to the 18-minute target.
Latest NHS England data for July shows that more than 29,000 sickened people waited 12 hours at A&E units last month (yellow lines) — four times more than the NHS target and up by a third on June, which was the previous record. Meanwhile, the proportion of patients seen within four hours — the timeframe 95 per cent of people are supposed to be seen within — dropped to 71 per cent last month (red line), the lowest rate logged since records began in 2010
As many as 500 people are dying every week in England because of the crisis in NHS emergency departments, according to an analysis that lays bare the devastating toll of the summer crisis. The graph shows the numbers of excess deaths linked to long A&E waits
The latest data shows a record 29,000 sickened people waited 12 hours at A&E units in July, four times the NHS target. The figure was up by a third on June’s data, which held the previous record.
With an overnight stay in an NHS bed costing the taxpayer around £400, the 13,000 bed-blockers issue could be costing the nation around £5million a day.
The ongoing crisis comes despite multiple promises from Government to fix social care.
An extra £36billion of cash was allocated to the NHS and social care over the next three years through No10’s controversial levy, with just £6billion going to the latter.
Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss last week pledged to scrap the levy and boost social care funding through general taxation.
Her comment sparked alarm within the health sector, with leaders urging her not to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ and deprive the NHS of funding.
The care board responsible for North Bristol said £17million was being invested to speed up discharges.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said £5.4bn was being invested in adult social care over the next three years.
They added the Government has continued supporting a £500m workforce development fund to improve training and retention in social care.
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