COMMUNITY BEDS FEARS
CUTS TO NON-ACUTE CARE MEANS MANY PATIENTS CANNOT BE DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL
A LACK of community hospital beds in Bucks has led to major discharge delays as patients wait to move on to their next stage of care, according to a council report.
However, during a meeting of Bucks County Council’s (BCC) health and wellbeing board last week there was confusion over whether the information provided in the paper is actually correct.
The BCC and Bucks Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) report states the most common reasons for delays are a lack of non-acute beds at community hospitals for patients to be transferred to.
Across Buckinghamshire patients collectively waited 2,660 days – more than seven years – to be transferred to community hospitals over the past year.
The 20 inpatient beds at Marlow and Thame community hospitals were scrapped last year as a new NHS community hub pilot was launched – which aimed to bring more care closer to patients’ homes.
Campaigners feared the scheme would contribute to a “severe bed shortage” in Bucks and continue to campaign against the move.
Cabinet member for children’s services, Warren Whyte, questioned why the NHS is pushing forward with community hub plans if the lack of beds is putting additional strain on services.
Speaking during the meeting on December 6, Cllr Whyte said: “The biggest cause of delays transfer care is attributed to the lack of community non-acute beds and yet we have a healthcare trust that is continuing with a reconfiguration of community healthcare hubs, or community hospitals.
“We are now in December with the winter rush about to start – and communities still don’t know what the Buckinghamshire healthcare trust’s view is on community beds and on acute beds.”
However clinical director of children’s services at Bucks CCG, Juliet Sutton, questioned the accuracy of the data, stating: “I’m not sure that is actually correct. I think it’s [referring to] non-acute NHS and probably more care home beds.”
Leader of BCC, Martin Tett, then raised concerns inaccurate and out-of-date data has been provided, stating: “What worries me is if we have been given information that actually isn’t accurate.
“If we have a statutory responsibility collectively as a group of colleagues to monitor this, and we see something here and draw a conclusion, and someone says that’s not true, we need to have accurate information to draw the right conclusions and see if collectively we can do better.
“We are getting very out-of-date data and secondly I’m not clear if we are being given accurate context.”
Executive director of communities, health and adult social care, Gill Quinton, assured members action is being taken to reduce the number of delays in care transfer.
This includes a new ‘discharge to assess’ system, which will allow patients to be discharged earlier from hospital by arranging non-acute care with other providers.
She added that more hospital beds have been commissioned in other areas to tackle the issues caused by reduced number of beds at community hospitals.
A hospital bed