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Report calls for end to 'bedblockers'

PUBLISHED: 05:10 20 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

A PANEL set up to look at health issues in Essex has published a report calling for an end to bed-blocking in the county's hospitals.

And the Essex health overview and scrutiny panel (EHOSP) has made a series of recommendations to help eliminate the problem.

A PANEL set up to look at health issues in Essex has published a report calling for an end to bed-blocking in the county's hospitals.

And the Essex health overview and scrutiny panel (EHOSP) has made a series of recommendations to help eliminate the problem.

Bed blocking arises when an elderly patient in hospital is fit enough to leave but is unable to do so because social services are unable to find a suitable care facility.

At any one time in Essex it is estimated there are around 60 elderly people in hospital who are "delayed discharges" of this type.

EHOSP, which is made up of unitary, county and district councillors from across the county, has spent 15 months examining the problem of bed-blocking.

The publication of its report comes months before new rules come in which will force local authorities to pay the NHS £120 for each night an elderly person stays in hospital when they are medically fit to leave.

It is feared this new penalty scheme which will be introduced on April 1, could cost Essex £3.9 million per year unless bed-blocking is reduced.

The study concentrated its focus on delayed discharges from hospitals in Colchester, Chelmsford, Harlow, Southend and Basildon.

During the compilation of the report panel members consulted with health and social care professionals, community health councils and members of the public who had been delayed discharges themselves.

Roger Dyson, chairman of EHOSP, said: "The panel recognises that the issue of delayed discharges is a complex one. NHS bodies have cooperated fully with this scrutiny report and, at their own request, received draft copies of the report."

Key recommendations of the report include arranging to for patients to be transferred to the nearest available interim facility, such as a residential home, if they cannot return home from hospital straight away. Clearly identifying delayed discharges quickly, setting up special discharge co-ordinators in all of the county's hospitals, investing in transitional care, such as residential home beds, finding more residential homes to use in some areas of the county. Also the consideration of "London weighting" carers' wages in some areas to help provide more help in the home.

Mr Dyson added: "We hope that as a result of this study, and the good work that is already in place in some parts of Essex, we can make real improvements for elderly patients over the coming months."

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