Bed blocking

Bed blocking

British Red Cross urges Government to release funds immediately to tackle issue of delayed discharge from hospital

Today, the British Red Cross is calling on the Government to release funds to support some of the country’s most vulnerable people, in their transition home from hospital.

The Government’s enhanced Better Care Fund, designed to improve health and social care, won’t be available for at least two years. The British Red Cross says these funds are needed now, to support the older people who are currently stranded in hospital due to the gap in care provision.

A delayed discharge occurs when a patient, medically fit to go home, cannot leave hospital because the other necessary care or support is not available for them.

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, said: “The Government must ensure that older people are discharged from hospital in a safe, supported and timely way. Putting these already earmarked funds to use now, rather than later, would enable local health and social care providers to invest in cost-effective services. It would ensure that older people are discharged from hospital with dignity.”

In evidence submitted to today’s Public Accounts Committee inquiry on discharging older people from acute hospitals, the British Red Cross stressed that this issue, often referred to as ‘bed-blocking’, is almost never the fault of the patient. The delays are primarily caused by pressure on health services and a lack of investment in care services for adults.

Given the current social care crisis, the British Red Cross is urging Government to respond by releasing the Better Care Fund immediately instead of waiting another two years to release the bulk of the funding, as is currently planned.

The British Red Cross operates over 100 Support at Home services across the UK, which last year helped more than 80,000 people. Some of these services are based in A&E departments to ensure people get home from hospital quickly and safely. Supported discharge services are an essential response to the problem of gaps in health and social care.

In addition further evidence submitted by the British Red Cross stated that social care and prevention services are cost-effective and achieve positive outcomes for older people and their carers. It also maintains that investing in prevention services could significantly help avoid people unnecessarily going into hospital in the first place.

Adamson continued:  “The voluntary sector can and should continue to play a key role in this. We are uniquely placed because we assist people every day and work with carers and health care professionals to provide the best possible outcomes for people in crisis. Our expertise can be put to use to bridge the gap between health and social care services.