Elderly patients 'block' beds

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN with a serious kidney infection waited more than 18 hours for a bed at a London hospital where 50 to 60 beds are 'blocked' by elderly patients, writes Liz Hunt.

The old people are fit for discharge but are awaiting places in homes or the community.

Nadene Ghouri, a 22-year- old student, said she was admitted to King's College Hospital on 4 January where she was judged to be an emergency but did not see a doctor for an hour and a half. She spent the night lying on a trolley.

The situation at King's is mirrored around the country since the introduction of the Government's care in the community initiative. Social services departments must assess elderly patients before discharge to decide whether they need residential or nursing home care, or can go back into the community.

A report last week by the Royal College of Nursing said that nearly one-third of hospital casualty departments nationally have patients waiting overnight for beds.