Council chiefs have welcomed a reduction in the number of days patients who are ready to be discharged are left in hospital beds due to a lack of suitable care at home.
The NHS performance statistics published today show that in November 2017 patients spent a total of 155,100 extra days in hospital beds waiting to be discharged, compared to 193,200 in November 2016.
This equates to an average of 5,169 beds occupied each day in November 2017 by a patient subject to a delayed transfer of care — a decrease of 1,271 beds.
‘Today’s figures show that councils have continued to reduce the number of delayed days,’ said Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, in response to the new figures.
‘This continued improvement is testament to the ongoing hard work by councils to get people out of hospital and living in their own homes and communities with the support they need in the right place and at the right time.’
Cllr Seccombe went on to emphasise that delayed transfers were a symptom of the underlying pressures across the whole health and care system and not their cause.
‘Tackling these underlying causes must be the priority,’ she continued.
‘This year’s winter health crisis and the way councils are successfully using extra social care funding from the Government this year to reduce delays should incentivise government to now fully fund our social care system.
‘It is clear that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system.
‘Social care needs to be put on an equal footing with the NHS and government needs to use the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement to address immediate pressures and the £2.3bn funding gap facing social care by 2020.’
In their response to the NHS performance figures, the older people’s charity Independent Age also stressed the importance of a holistic approach to health and social care.
‘On the face of it, it is good news that fewer people are being stuck in hospital waiting for a care package to be put in place before they can go home,’ said the charity’s chief executive Janet Morrison.
‘However, the increases in A&E attendance, emergency admissions and NHS 111 calls are a stark reminder of how important it is to make sure people are only discharged from hospital when they have the right support and care in place, so they don’t find themselves back in hospital days or weeks later.
‘With so many people being discharged into a care home, it’s also essential that there are places in high-quality care homes available, so people don’t find themselves simply moved from a hospital bed, to a bed in a care home rated inadequate by CQC and then back into the over-stretched NHS.’