Bed blocking drops in Northamptonshire but still worst performer in region

Delayed transfers of care happen for a variety of reasons including not having a care package in place for when the person returns home.
Delayed transfers of care happen for a variety of reasons including not having a care package in place for when the person returns home.

The number of patients stranded in NHS hospital beds in Northamptonshire is at its lowest level for two years – but the county is still the worst performing in the region.

NHS figures released this week show that social care bed-blocking in the county has reduced to the lowest levels since July 2016.

In November, the collective number of days that patients were held in Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital due to a delayed transfer of care (DTOC) was 808, 49 per cent lower than October (1,585) and 48 per cent lower than November 2017 (1,544).

However, when compared to neighbouring counties the performance is low. In Nottingham in November the collective number of days was 268, and in Lincolnshire it was 270.

A delayed transfer of care – known as bed-blocking – occurs when a patient remains in a bed after being officially declared medically fit to leave hospital.

Reasons why people have not been able to go home include not having care packages in place and not having available residential or nursing home accommodation.

The Care Quality Commission criticised the partnership working between Northamptonshire County Council’s adult social care services and health organisations in an its inspection findings published in July and since then efforts have been made to improve the relationships in order to get well people out of hospital beds quicker.

Anna Earnshaw, county council director of adult social care, said: “We’re delighted by this good news for three reasons: it shows how we’re working with health partners for the good of patients, it’s a testament to our hard-working staff who are passionate about improving delays and most of all, it’s good news for local people – as we know to leave hospital as soon as possible improves long-term outcomes and recovery.”

Cllr Sandra Naden-Horley, county council cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Patients experiencing delays are now at the lowest levels since July 2016 – and these results show a significant reduction on all counts.

“Delays are not only distressing for the patients and their families, but they can also be risky. For older people, staying in a hospital bed for too long can lead to loss of muscle tone and a number of adverse effects. For hospitals, high numbers of DTOCs can have a significant impact on their ability to run smoothly.

“Our hospitals are still facing substantial pressures from high admissions, especially in the over 65s. However, these reductions show we’re moving record numbers of patients out of hospital and continue to provide additional support when they need it.”

In the county council’s latest monthly budget report it says that the average number of people staying over 21 days is twice the national average at 12 per cent.

The authority can be fined £155 per day by the hospital for every day that a well person is prevented from leaving hospital and into another social care placement.