The BBC have recently reported that ambulances over the Christmas period were having to queue to get into A&E, with more than 40% of crews being forced to wait at least half an hour to hand over their patients.
Thankfully, there is hope that the pressure should ease, with flu and Covid admissions beginning to fall.
But Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS confederation, said that wards are “still incredibly full, creating delays in A&E and for ambulances.” He expressed that over Christmas, hospitals were facing “crisis conditions that were presenting a risk to patients.”
To ease the demand for beds, NHS hospitals are reportedly discharging patients into hotels. Namely, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire trusts are using hotels for their patients who no longer need urgent treatment, but who need social care.
The hotel care facility was first introduced in late November 2022 and is due to run until the end of March 2023. Nationally, this aims to free up an estimated 13,000 hospital beds that are filled with patients who have been declared fit for discharge but are waiting for social care.
The Integrated Care Board has said that “live in care workers are delivering the service, with clinical teams providing rehabilitation and primary care support.”
NHS Devon have positively reflected on the scheme, saying that “care hotels are just one of many positive measures that health and care partners have put in place to reduce pressure on busy health services in the winter.’ But Age UK have said that the policy ‘underlines just how severe the crisis in social care has become.’
As a short-term measure, it is agreed that the policy should free up hospital beds for those in need of urgent treatment. However, Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, is concerned about the quality of care in a hotel setting. She says, “this is a short-term solution, but what we really need is a robust, sustainable and well-invested social care sector.”
Sally Warren, the Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, states “we have the consequences of years of underfunding our capital investment in hospitals.’
We are seeing this lack of funding in its entirety as trusts are tirelessly trying to ensure that patient safety is high, whilst the demand continues to increase.
Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation summarises this position. He said, “the reality is that we’re still paying the price for 10 years of austerity where we had growth at half the rate that was needed. So, it’s going to take some time to be able to close that gap and provide people with the health service that they want and that they need.”
If you feel that you have suffered as a result of the pressures placed upon the NHS, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist Medical Negligence team who will offer confidential and free initial advice.
Article by Nancy Tebbutt