09:00AM, Friday 20 July 2018
Dozens of hospital beds are being occupied by patients who no longer need them on an average day, according to figures for the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Statistics from NHS England show 79 beds a day are being ‘blocked’ at the hospitals run by the trust, which include Wexham Park Hospital in Slough and Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot.
In May, the latest month for which figures are available, patients at the trust spent a total of 2,450 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility — equivalent to more than six-and-a-half years of waiting time.
A delayed transfer of care, otherwise known as bed blocking, occurs when a patient remains in a bed after being officially declared ready for transfer.
Bed blocking can occur for various reasons, including bed shortages at residential or nursing homes and delays in setting up home care packages.
Figures show that 62 per cent of Frimley Health’s delays were caused by problems with the NHS and 23 per cent by problems with social care.
Wexham Park Hospital and Heatherwood Hospital have a combined total of 650 beds, the vast majority of which are at Wexham Park.
Its third hospital, Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley, Surrey, has approximately 720 beds.
Across England, an average of nearly 4,500 beds a day were blocked in May, representing roughly 3.8 per cent of all occupied beds, exceeding the Government target of 3.5 per cent.
The national rate peaked in February 2017, at a rate of 6,660 beds per day, but has decreased steadily over the past year.
Hospital trusts with a similar number of beds to Frimley’s in Oxfordshire and Southampton had 68 and 99 beds blocked on an average day in May, respectively.
The figures do not include delays in transferring a patient between wards or from one acute hospital to another.
A Frimley Health NHS Trust spokesman said: “Transferring and discharging patients at the right time is important for good care and a top priority for us.”
He said the trust is working with community and social care partners to develop ways to make transfers as smooth as possible and that it is looking at ways to care for people in their home and outside of acute hospitals.
He added: “We have made great progress and the overall trend of delayed transfers of care is downwards.
“But we also know we have much more to do. Our aim is to provide outstanding models of care that fit a community where people are living longer with more complex health needs.”
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