Thousands of patients face Christmas period in hospital as bed-blocking crisis bites
Thousands of patients face spending the festive season in hospital due to a lack of outpatient treatment or social care being on offer for them, according to new analysis.
New figures show more than 4,600 patients in England are likely to face delayed discharge from hospital throughout December, despite there being no medical reason for them to stay.
According to a Labour Party analysis, almost 3,000 of these patients will face delays in their discharge due to failures in arranging further medical care.
Meanwhile another 1,300 will be forced to stay in hospital due to a lack of care home beds, or proper access to home care.
Despite a pledge from Health Secretary Matt Hancock to better prepare hospitals for the tough winter period, around 3% of all NHS hospital beds in England will be lost to bed-blocking throughout December.
Earlier this week the Government announced the delay of the long-awaited social care white paper due to a lack of Parliamentary time as a result of the Brexit legislation passing through the Commons.
Labour said the figures showed the impact of years of cuts to health and social services budgets.
Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley, said: “As many as 5,000 beds will be occupied unnecessarily over the festive period, causing misery to people who shouldn’t be at home with their families.”
She added: “The toxic combination of cuts to our NHS and the budgets of councils who deliver social care mean that vital care packages and further treatment, like rehabilitation and physiotherapy in the community, just isn’t available.”
Last month, the Prime Minister announced a new £3.5bn scheme which would see medical teams visiting elderly patients in their own homes, in a bid to limit the impact of bed blocking.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The health and care system is working hard to ensure patients return home from hospital once their treatment has finished and we have freed up around 2,000 beds a day since February 2017.
“We have invested £420 million this winter to improve performance, redevelop A&Es and help patients get home quicker, including £240 million for councils to help reduce social care pressures on the NHS. Our long-term plan for the NHS back by an extra £20.5 billion a year, will guarantee the future of our health service.”