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Nearly 4 million bed days lost since 2011

Nearly 4 million bed days lost since 2011

The NHS has lost nearly four million hospital bed days since 2011 because of problems in social care, an analysis by charity Age UK has revealed.
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The NHS has lost nearly four million hospital bed days since 2011 because of problems in social care, an analysis by charity Age UK has revealed.

The charity found that in the last six years delays in getting home care has increased by 209%, resulting in 3,954,833 lost hospital bed days.

Figures obtained by the charity reveal that in 2016/17, 954,799 hospital bed days were lost due to an inability to access social care, costing the NHS £173m excluding equipment and adaptations.

'Grossly underestimated'

David Oliver, clinical vice president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘The national audit office report on delayed transfers of care from hospital showed that the officially reported figures grossly underestimate the real numbers of stranded patients in hospital awaiting community services through no fault of their own.

He added that the delayed transfers of care are ‘due to systematic cuts to social care budgets and provision’ as well as ‘a serious lack of capacity in community healthcare services’.

He said: ‘These delays have serious impacts on our already scare hospital bed base; leave patients marooned in acute ward settings they no longer need and at risk of harms of hospitalisation.’

Lack of social care arrangements

Age UK found that the starkest increase was last year, 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. 

Meanwhile, 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.

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.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK said the figures show ‘the disastrous impact of our failing social care system on the NHS’.

She said: ‘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.’

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