Delayed discharges lose almost 4m hospital days since 2011
National older people’s charity Age UK says that, since 2011 almost four million hospital bed days have been lost through delayed discharges due to problems securing social care, with delays getting homecare rocketing by 209% in six years.
The charity says it’s getting worse, with the starkest increase occurring between 2015/16 and 2016/17, when there was a 27.2% rise in the number of bed days lost through an inability to have social care arrangements in place, from 695,037 days, to 954,799 days.
And the latest available figures show that in the period between April and July 2017, there have been 13.2% more days lost to social care than during the same period in 2016. Whilst there is no age breakdown available for patients affected by delayed hospital discharge they are typically older people. Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said the figures represented huge numbers of older people unable to start their recovery out of hospital, putting them at risk of infections, loss of mobility and psychological distress.
“It is also a terrible waste of NHS resources and shows short sightedness from successive governments in not addressing the social care crisis as it has spiralled year-on-year,” said Ms Abrahams.
“An excess bed day in the NHS costs between £2,089 and £2,532 a week for non-elective and elective inpatients, respectively, compared to about £519 for a place in residential care and less still for homecare.
“These delayed discharge figures show the disastrous impact of our failing social care system on the NHS, as well as on older people themselves. Increasing numbers are being marooned in their hospital beds, losing muscle tone and risking infection when they are medically fit enough to leave, often because of acute shortages of social care, especially of the home visiting kind. There is no doubt that some older people’s chances of a good recovery are being totally undermined as a result.
“To add insult to injury, this ridiculous and sometimes tragic situation cost the tax payer over £173 million last year alone, money that would have been much better spent giving older people the social care they need.”