Councillor voices fears for patients over targets to free up hospital beds
CONCERNS have been raised that targets to free up hospital beds may mean some patients are being discharged too soon.
Solihull Council has been handed more than £ 800,000 by the government to bolster adult social care, with hopes that this will reduce so- called “bed blocking” over the winter – when NHS services are especially stretched.
However, Councillor Jo Fairburn ( Lib Dem, Olton) had voiced fears about the unintended consequences of hurrying to get people out of wards.
She had raised the issue during a presentation this week on the extra funding that the council has been allocated by Westminster.
“Sometimes you wonder if people are discharged too early,” she said.
“I know of two or three cases where within two days they had to be readmitted. Now that’s very expensive – the cost of discharge and the cost of readmitting.
“The worry is that when people are given targets, ‘ you’ve got to have this many, or not have people waiting’, people are just wanting to hit those targets.”
Officers had confirmed that readmissions were closely monitored to establish the reasons someone has returned to a ward and said that the extra money would help improve the support following a discharge.
The £ 870,356 grant was announced last month and the terms and conditions for its use confirmed earlier this week. Caroline Potter, finance manager for adult social care and health, said the money had been provided to help “manage pressures” between this month and March next year. She said that applying the funding to a specific window of time was “slightly more restrictive” than the council had been expecting. “As you will appreciate it does take time to get new things in place,” she told the meeting. “But we have had some very positive conversations with the market about what we could do and what we could get in place quickly.” She said that money would be spent not only on getting people out of hospital but identifying those at risk of being admitting and taking step to prevent them needing to go in. The winter months traditionally put extra strain on health and social care, with bad weather, which can increase the risk of injury, and the flu season among the factors. Coun Karen Grinsell ( inset above), cabinet member for adult social care and health, had asked how this year was shaping up. Officers had advised that it was a similar picture to previous years, with demand increasing.