Home care crisis ‘traps’ elderly in hospitals
HOSPITALS are being turned into long-stay institutions, amid a crisis in social care, with more than 17,000 people now stuck on wards for at least three weeks.
Official NHS figures show that across the country, bed occupancy levels are already approaching 95 per cent, with 18 hospital trusts reaching 100 per cent capacity last week.
The new data – the first ever analysis of the numbers stuck in hospital for such periods – shows the number of “long-stay patients” already rising as winter sets in.
NHS trust chief executives said pensioners admitted to wards with relatively minor health problems were ending up dispatched to care homes weeks later, because they had lost so much mobility confined to hospitals.
In many cases, they could have left hospital weeks earlier, if only they had been given help at home, they said.
The statistics show some NHS trusts with hundreds of “long-stay” patients, with 500 such cases at Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust and 480 at Barts Health trust in London.
One unnamed NHS trust chief executive said: “At any one time, I’ve got 250 beds full of people staying longer than 20 days, mainly people who are elderly,” warning that far too many cases were there for lack of social care.
Even an extra week in hospital for want of care at home could have devastating consequences, another said, with a patient who could have lived independently ending up in a care home.