The Government has pledged ‘up to’ £250m to assist the local NHS in buying extra care home beds to speed up hospital discharge, with ICBs set to begin booking beds.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), £200m funding will be allocated to help buy ‘thousands’ of beds in care homes and other settings, which could include hotels.
An additional £5m in capital funding will also be allocated to hospitals to introduce new ambulance hubs and expand trusts’ discharge lounges.
Patients discharged into these new beds will be supported by GPs and community-based clinicians.
There are currently around 13,000 people occupying hospital beds in England who are fit to be discharged, with the new funding intended to majorly free up capacity.
The new money will fund stays of up to four weeks per patient until the end of March. ICBs are now expected to begin booking beds that are ‘most appropriate’ to patients’ needs.
In a statement in Parliament later today, health secretary Steve Barclay will outline a series of further measures to address current pressures facing the NHS over winter, including announcing six areas trialling solutions to free up hospital beds.
These trials include dedicated dementia hubs, new offers of provision for rehabilitative care and creating effective data tools to help manage demand for discharge of medically fit patients.
Mr Barclay said: ‘I am taking urgent action to reduce pressure on the health service, including investing an additional £200 million to enable the NHS to immediately buy up beds in the community to safely discharge thousands of patients from hospital and free up hospital capacity, on top of the £500 million we’ve already invested to tackle this issue.
‘In addition, we are trialling six National Discharge Frontrunners – innovative, quick solutions which could reduce discharge delays, moving patients from hospital to home more quickly.’
The six trial sites are Sussex Health and Care, the Northern Care Alliance, Humber and North Yorkshire, One Croydon Alliance, Leeds Health and Care Partnership and Warwickshire Place.
In response NHS Providers’ interim chief executive Saffron Cordery said that trust leaders will ask whether this announcement is too little too late to deal with what many warned last year would be the worst winter on record.
‘Leaders across the NHS will be seeking urgent clarification that the funding announced [yesterday] is ‘new’ money rather than being drawn from existing NHS budgets.
‘They will also want assurances that the £200million will be distributed immediately if it is to have a real impact on the current pressures facing the NHS. It is vital that the delays so far in distributing the £500million adult social care discharge fund, when it was urgently needed on the frontline and could have made a real difference, are avoided this time.’