Man cost the NHS £350,000 for two-year stay at James Paget University Hospital

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk man has been evicted from his hospital bed by court order after he “unnecessarily” refused to leave for more than two years.

The patient arrived at the James Paget University Hospital near the Suffolk/Norfolk border in August 2014 and remained there until this year despite being deemed “fit for discharge”, hospital chiefs have confirmed.

As a last resort, the hospital said it was reluctantly forced into launching legal action against the man, who has not been named due to patient confidentiality.

The hospital applied to the courts for a possession order to claim back the bed occupied by the man.

The order was granted on December 1, 2016 and the man was evicted on January 10, 2017 and placed in accommodation in the community.

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With the average cost of a hospital stay estimated by the Department for Health to be £400 per day, it means the man cost the NHS around £350,000.

Anna Hills, director of governance at the hospital, said: “The gentleman had been occupying a bed unnecessarily at the James Paget University Hospital for more than two years – and every effort had been made to try to remedy this situation.

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“He repeatedly refused all offers of appropriate accommodation organised by our local authority and social care partners, despite being fit for discharge.

“As a last resort, the Trust had to apply to the court to allow us to remove the gentleman from the hospital.

“The decision to go to court was not taken lightly but our priority has to be considering the needs of all our patients and ensuring that our limited resources, which are under increasing pressure, are available to those who genuinely need hospital care.

“We have worked with our partners in this case to ensure the gentleman continues to receive the appropriate level of care and support in the community, having left hospital.”

Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of Healthwatch Essex, said: “The case at James Paget is obviously an exceptional one, but it does shine a light on a key issue that hospitals struggle with.

“Coincidentally, over the same two-year period at Healthwatch Essex we have carried out a research study on how patients, families and staff experience discharge from hospital. We worked with three Essex hospitals, carrying out almost 200 hours of observation and speaking with 200 patients, staff, and family carers.

“Our study illustrates the need for hospitals to have really good communication processes in place to ensure the necessary care and support is available to patients when they are ready to leave hospital.

“A lack of joined-up working between the NHS and social care can make a huge difference, but it can also be the simple things like patients waiting for documentation, or medication, or simply someone to collect them that can lead to patients spending thousands of unnecessary hours in hospital.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Suffolk County Council has worked extensively with our partners as well as the gentleman to explore all options available to him, however they were declined by him.

“We are continuing to work with the gentleman, and all of our partners to ensure he receives appropriate levels of care and support.”

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