NHS faces daily bill of £73,000 due to ‘bed-blocking’ problem

The A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham

The A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham

  • Figures reveal eight hospitals spent £73,000 in one day on patients waiting to be discharged
  • QA Hospital in Portsmouth was included for spending cash on delayed discharged patients
  • MPs say it is a problem but hard work is going into reducing number of patients waiting to be discharged
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MORE than £70,000 was spent in a day on patients waiting to be discharged from hospitals in the south.

The NHS spent £73,000 on just one day late last year on ‘delayed discharge’ patients – a phenomenon known as bed-blocking – in eight hospitals, including at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

This is a real problem, with delays in patients being discharged having a knock-on effect on congestion in emergency admissions.

Suella Fernandes

The patients had no medical need to remain in hospital but required a social care package before leaving.

In total, the number of delayed discharge patients – 296 – accounted for eight per cent of all patients.

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC revealed the figures, which come a week after 16 ambulances were queueing outside the A&E department of QA Hospital.

Some patients waiting in South Central Ambulance Service vehicles were left for more than two hours, and the delays are in part attributable to the fact that there are not enough spare beds elsewhere in QA due to delayed discharge.

The hospital has also been on ‘black alert’ due to the high demand on its services.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes has recently visited the hospital, and was briefed on measures it is taking to address problems with delays to admissions.

She met and spoke to staff from the emergency department.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘This is a real problem, with delays in patients being discharged having a knock-on effect on congestion in emergency admissions.

‘We’ve see the sort of problems that has caused at QA Hospital, and this is one of the causes they mentioned to me when I visited.

‘We need more efficient links with community care to speed up the process, and this shows there is clearly more work to be done on that.’

But Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said organisations in Portsmouth are working hard to tackle the issue.

‘So-called “bed blocking” is a very big issue across the country but I know that QA Hospital and local organisations are working very hard here in Portsmouth to tackle the problem,’ she said.

‘Portsmouth City Council has managed to achieve an 80 per cent discharge rate into social care which means many more people looked after in the community, and not on wards.

‘As an added bonus, the authorities are also liaising with Age UK and other charities to ensure that support is available so that re-admissions to hospital are much reduced.’

Mrs Drummond added: ‘It is clearly not good for hospitals in the region to be spending this amount of money on delayed discharged patients.

‘But I know there are reasons to be positive the problem is being effectively addressed here in Portsmouth.’

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust did not comment when approached by The News.

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