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Bed blocking at Queen Elizabeth Hospital falls with partners’ work

The amount of bed blocking at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has fallen over the last year.

Latest figures show there are, on average each day, 13 patients fit to be discharged who are taking up beds.

That’s around 25 per cent fewer than at the same point last year.

A delay occurs when a patient remains in a bed after being officially declared safe for transfer by both a doctor and a multidisciplinary team, which could include social or mental health care workers.

The figures show that 68 per cent of the delays were caused by problems within the NHS, like waiting for a bed to open up in a rehabilitation centre or mental health hospital.

A further 32 per cent were caused by problems with social care, such as delays in setting up community care or special equipment at home.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn (9952700)
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn (9952700)

In February, patients at the QEH spent a total of 368 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.

Denise Smith, the trust’s interim chief operating officer, said: “Ensuring our patients receive timely access to the care they need is a top priority for the QEH and all our staff are committed to achieving this.

“Over the last year, we have worked closely with our partners in community and social care to ensure that, where possible, patients are able to return to their own home following a stay in hospital. We will continue to focus on this in the future to ensure patients receive the care they need, in the most appropriate setting.”

The Care Quality Commission recommends a more joined-up approach to tackle delays.

A spokesperson said: “There is too much ineffective coordination of local health and care services - leading to fragmented care for older people.

“Our measures would reflect the contribution of all health and care organisations, rather than relying primarily on information collected by acute hospitals.”

Across England, an average of 4,546 beds were blocked each day in February, resulting in a total of 127,281 delayed days – equivalent to just under 350 years of lost time.

NHS England said: “Thanks to better joint working between hospitals and social care teams, thousands more people were able to return home with the right support quicker after a spell in hospital this winter, freeing up hundreds of beds every day for other patients who need hospital care.”

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