King’s Mill’s hospital trust says it is making progress on bed blocking

There are 25 patients who are fit to be discharged taking up beds each day at the Trust responsible for King’s Mill Hospital, figures show.

With elderly patients often stuck waiting to be signed off, there is concern over the impact delays can have on their health.

Kings Mill Hospital and car parking.

Kings Mill Hospital and car parking.

According to the NHS, a hospital stay of more than 10 days for a person over 80 can lead to 10 years of muscle ageing.

A spokesman for the Trust said discharge figures had reduced over the past year showing the trust was making progress on the issue.

NHS England figures show that in February, patients at the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust spent a total of 695 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.

That’s equivalent to nearly two years of waiting time.

A delayed transfer of care occurs when a patient remains in a bed after being officially declared safe for transfer by both a doctor and a multidisciplinary team, which could include social or mental health care workers.

The figures show that 97 per cent of the delays were caused by problems within the NHS, like waiting for a bed to open up in a rehabilitation centre or mental health hospital.

The remainder were caused by problems with social care, such as delays in setting up community care or special equipment at home.

And zero delayed days were because of problems in both sectors.

Delays in transferring a patient between wards, or from one acute hospital to another, are not included.

Independent healthcare charity the King’s Fund said that there could be many more people who were safe to leave hospital but had not been officially signed off.

The Care Quality Commission said that it recommends a more joined-up approach to health and social care to tackle delays.

A CQC spokesperson said: “There is too much ineffective coordination of local health and care services - leading to fragmented care for older people.

“Our measures would reflect the contribution of all health and care organisations, rather than relying primarily on information collected by acute hospitals.”

Across England, an average of 4,546 beds were blocked each day in February, resulting in a total of 127,281 delayed days – equivalent to just under 350 years of lost time.

The rate peaked in February 2017, when 6,660 beds were lost to bed blocking each day, but has fallen steadily since then. Last year, it was 5,013 per day.

At Sherwood Forest Hospitals, bed blocking has fallen, from 34 beds each day in February 2018 to 25 this year.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “Thanks to better joint working between hospitals and social care teams, thousands more people were able to return home with the right support quicker after a spell in hospital this winter, freeing up hundreds of beds every day for other patients who need hospital care.”

Chief Operating Officer for Sherwood Forest Hospitals, Simon Barton said: “Sherwood Forest Hospitals continues to work effectively with our partners within Nottinghamshire Healthcare, local Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Nottinghamshire County Council to ensure that patients who need to be discharged are discharged to the right places for them in a timely way.

“It is important to note that Sherwood Forest Hospitals has 620 beds across all three sites and so 25 represents four per cent of our bed base.

“We have put a number of measures in place to ensure that patients who are waiting to be discharged are not taking up beds that are needed for our sickest patients.

For example we have a discharge lounge, which patients can wait in rather than being in a hospital bed.

“We know that there is more work to do, but the fact that our discharge figures have reduced from this time last year, when we have seen a busier winter, shows that we are making progress thanks to better joint working with our local social care teams.

“We are improving year on year with only 3.92 per cent of our patients awaiting transfer in April 2019 compared to March 2018 which was 5.32 per cent (equating to 220 less patients waiting for transfer in 2019).”