Bed blocking is dilemma for Morecambe Bay's hospitals
Patients block 37 beds a day at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, NHS England figures show.
In October, patients at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust spent a total of 1,132 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.
That’s equivalent to more than three years of waiting time.
The figures show that 54% of these delays were caused by problems with the NHS, like waiting for a bed to open up in a rehabilitation centre or mental health hospital.
A further 44% were caused by problems with social care, such as delays in setting up community care or special equipment at home.
The rest of the delays were due to problems in both sectors.
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 do not include delays in transferring a patient between wards, or from one acute hospital to another.
Independent healthcare charity the King’s Fund has said that the process is sometimes lengthy, and there could be many more people who were safe to leave hospital but had not been officially signed off.
Delayed transfers of care have the greatest impact on elderly patients. According to the NHS, for a person over 80 a hospital stay of more than 10 days can lead to 10 years of muscle ageing.
Across England, an average of 4,737 beds a day were blocked in October, representing roughly 4.3% of all occupied beds. The Government’s target is 3.5%.
This resulted in a total of 146,861 delayed days, equivalent to just over 400 years of lost time.
The national rate peaked in February 2017 at a rate of 6,660 beds per day, but has decreased fairly steadily over the past year.
A report on delivering care for older people released this year by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted concerns about Government targets for delayed transfers of care.
The report, Beyond Barriers, cautioned that trusts focusing on trying to hit government targets might end up delivering lower quality care as a result.
The CQC said that it is recommending a more joined-up approach to health and social care, and performance measures for the care of elderly people.
A CQC spokesperson said: “As our report highlights, 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.”
A spokesman for the NHS said: “A growing proportion of people are getting same day emergency care which prevents the need for an overnight stay.
“Hospitals also have freed up an additional 742 beds, by working closely with councils to help more people return home with the right care in place.”