NEARLY £2m is being wasted a month on bed-blocking at QA Hospital and now calls are being made for more community beds to be available to tackle the problem.
On average, about 240 people are stuck in beds at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, despite being medically fit for discharge.
It is significantly cheaper to have people cared for in the community than the hospitalCllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
And with the cost of a patient per bed per day around £250, on a single day the problem of bed-blocking is costing the NHS £60,000 – £1.8m a month.
Now Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Portsmouth, said St James’ Hospital in Milton, should be used.
‘When I visited QA last month there were 237 people in beds waiting to be discharged which is pretty big number,’ he said.
‘They are in those beds because there is nowhere else for them to go and they do not have the social services package available to be discharged.
‘There is an opportunity for Portsmouth City Council to do something and make this better.
‘A lot of people want to see St James’ Hospital kept for health uses and it could be a place for people to go while they wait for their care packages.
‘It is significantly cheaper to have people cared for in the community, around £130 a day, than the hospital.’
Currently, St James’ Hospital has services run by Solent NHS Trust but a large section of the site is not being used.
As reported in The News, several centres have closed over the years including the Baytrees which shut its doors last May. Campaigns by group Keep Milton Green have been trying to see more of the hospital used for health.
And Cllr Vernon-Jackson added having a facility there would ease pressure on QA.
He said: ‘There is a demand for this and having more free beds in the main part of the QA site will help with the build-up of patients it gets admitted through A&E.’
Patient Steven Schrier, from Hayling Island, has experienced delays in being discharged on several occasions from waiting for sign-offs from doctors to hanging around for prescriptions at the hospital’s pharmacy. He said some people could wait a whole day to be discharged.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for adult social and public health on Portsmouth City Council, said getting people from hospital into community beds is something all health organisations in the city are looking at.
‘One of the main thrusts of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sustainability and transformation plan (STP) is to move people from the hospital setting to the community,’ he said.
‘However until that money starts to flow, it is difficult for anyone to do anything.
‘Solent NHS Trust does have a couple of wards available and I would be quite happy to see those extended. It is better for people to recuperate away from the ward setting. It is not only better for them but it is a cheaper cost.’
The News asked Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust for a comment but it did not come back in time for publication.
Patient says systems to get people out of beds are to blame
A PATIENT who has spent hours waiting to be discharged has criticised the systems in place to get people out of hospital beds.
Steven Schrier, 79, has regular treatment at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, Portsmouth, and has sometimes had to wait all day to leave the ward.
The Hayling Island resident said: ‘The main problem is the admin side and the way the systems operate.
‘Without a doubt, a major bed-blocking cause is the discharge system.
‘After my experiences, I have discussed it with others and the same story repeats itself.
‘The surgeons and doctors do their rounds in the morning and you can be told at 11am that you are okay to leave.
‘But you are then told that the discharge nurse will see you between 2pm and 3pm.
‘You have lunch by your bed and if you need prescription medicine, many patients are told they have to wait for them.
‘I have been told that can mean waiting till 8pm or 9pm.’
Mr Schrier said recently, his wife was ready to pick him up after a simple procedure but despite being given the all-clear, when he asked to leave he was told he needed to be formally discharged.
He added the number of attendances at the emergency department were adding to the problems.
‘There is no doubt A&E get too many people coming in who should not be there,’ he said.
‘St Mary’s operates a seven-day service for walking wounded so why are people still being sent to A&E?’
Board aims to tackle the problem
WORK started last year to look at the number of patients waiting to be discharged from hospital beds.
As part of the A&E Delivery Board, made up of health organisations from across the Portsmouth area looking at services across the city, the Discharge to Assess model was started.
The scheme means what patients need can be more accurately assessed when they leave hospital and a comprehensive range of support set up for them in the community.
It helps maximise their independence and reduce the need for them to return to hospital.
Speaking at the time of project starting, Gethin Hughes, director of integrated services at the trust, said: ‘The A&E Delivery Board is about all of us in the health economy working together to maintain the best possible flow of patients through the system.
‘For us, this means working closely with our partners to ensure patients can be discharged when they no longer need the level of support provided by the acute hospital and their ongoing treatment can be safely delivered in a different environment.’