Portsmouth to limit support it gives to patients being discharged from hospital as it is running out of money

Funding fears have forced Portsmouth City Council to limit the number of placements it provides for people being discharged from hospital.
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The council has estimated that it will run out of money in May to offer rehabilitation spaces outside of the Spinnaker and Jubilee units and said this was necessary due to a lack of financial support from the government.

“I’m really upset this has had to come here because we are now in a situation where we’re having to make these mitigation measures because – so far – we haven’t had discharge to assess properly funded by central government,” cabinet member for health Matthew Winnington said before the decision was approved.

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“There weren’t many good things to come out of the pandemic but this was one of them and finally we got a model right around the country that people had wanted for a very long time and there was finally funding for it.”

Support for those being discharged from hospital is being reduced in Portsmouth 
Picture David Jones/PASupport for those being discharged from hospital is being reduced in Portsmouth 
Picture David Jones/PA
Support for those being discharged from hospital is being reduced in Portsmouth Picture David Jones/PA

Discharge to assess was introduced by the government in a bid to speed up discharges from hospital because of demand for beds for Covid-19 patients.

Under this scheme, four-week placements are given to people to support them before moving back home after a hospital stay. Capacity at the two specialist facilities in Portsmouth have been boosted by the use of spot placements purchased from care homes and care agencies.

The council said this process had boosted people’s recovery but also reduced the risk of readmittance to hospital, in turn reducing pressure on the health system.

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But the council said it would not have the money to fund these past May 19 next year, forcing it to limit their use. A cabinet report said similar steps had already been taken by Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight councils.

The report adds: “It is proposed that discharge to assess is restricted to the units [Spinnaker and Jubilee] and capacity that is recurrently funded within established budgets and adult social care returns to completing assessment of need in hospital…despite this approach having the potential to lead to an increase in time to discharge residents in hospital after their period of acute treatment is over.”

Cllr Winnington said the decision reluctantly needed to be taken but also urged the government to increase funding, saying there were long-term benefits to both the finances of the health sector and to people’s health.

“Unfortunately we are now getting to a situation where the money allocated by central government is not enough,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where we’re going to run out.

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“The money will run out in May and so we have to mitigate against that because otherwise it lands the city council with enormous costs when we’re already under severe financial pressure.

“This is the most frustrating thing: for something that we know saves money for councils…we’re in a situation where we won’t be able to do that and we’re having to restrict it.”