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Bed blocking ‘is falling’ – mental health trust

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Bosses of West Norfolk’s mental health trust say they have made “significant progress” in tackling the problem of bed blocking.

The claim comes after NHS data revealed an average of 11 Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) beds a day are occupied by patients who no longer need to stay in hospital.

The figures, from NHS England, showed that, in May, patients at the trust spent a total of 339 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility – equivalent to nearly a year of waiting time.

Just over three-quarters of the delays were caused by problems with social care and 17 per cent by issues within the NHS.

The data comes amid ongoing concerns about the capacity of the NHS to cope with the level of public demand.

Last week, the family of 95-year-old Dulcie Phillips, of Tilney St Lawrence, called for more resources to be devoted to mental health and elderly care.

Mrs Phillips, who had suspected dementia, died in Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being placed in a care home when no bed could be found for her to undergo a mental health assessment.

But Debbie White, NSFT’s director of operations for Norfolk and Waveney, said the scale of the discharge problem had fallen sharply over the past year.

She said: “We workvery closely with its partner organisations, such as the CCGs and social care, to, as far as possible, make sure that our beds are used only by people who need specialist inpatient mental health care.

“We have made significant progress in reducing the number of delayed transfers of care.

“For example, figures from NHS England show that in May service users spent a total of 339 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility, compared with 823 days in May 2017.

“In May this year, 56 of these days were the result of NHS issues compared to 412 days 12 months earlier. The 56 figure is also the lowest monthly total so far for 2018.”

She added that weekly meetings take place between the trust and social care bosses and a new social worker had been recently appointed.

But the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says a single joint framework for measuring how agencies deliver services for older patients is still needed, to assess how all health organisations perform.

The CQC said: “There is too much ineffective coordination of local health and care services – leading to fragmented care for older people.

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