Letter: How to 'unblock' hospital beds

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lynn Eaton is right to highlight the number of "bed blockers" in East Surrey ("How do I get out of here?", 20 August). At East Surrey we have a significant number of patients who are lodged in our hospitals, sometimes for months, while they wait for a social services funding decision prior to discharge to nursing home care. In the opinion of our consultants, they are unable to benefit further from hospital treatment and as your article points out they are blocking beds needed for emergency admissions of elderly patients via our accident and emergency department. These lodged patients are, in effect, social services' clients.

In response to the Government's recent consultation paper I have proposed a possible solution. That is to allow in law social services to purchase placements from NHS community hospitals and be able to apply the same set of rules as if the clients were being funded for nursing home care.

We believe that by sharing our community hospital overhead costs we could offer social services a 10 per cent discount on the current standard nursing home placement costs. This will enable social services' budgets to stretch further and help support our community hospitals.


Chief Executive

East Surrey Healthcare NHS Trust

Redhill, Surrey