A poll conducted by the Royal Voluntary Service has today revealed that 70% of NHS nurses delay the discharge of older patients due to the lack of support available outside of hospital.
The poll comes at time when outpatient services such as GP’s and other care providers are being blamed for A&E waiting times and delays in treatment of patients.
It was recently well publicised that there are increasing concerns that the enormous strain on A&E departments is party due to a lack of alternative services available to patients with non-life threatening conditions. Inflexible GP opening hours, delays at other sources of treatment and a lack of knowledge of alternative services such as Pharmacists have led to an increasing number of patients turning up to hospital because they feel that there is nowhere else to go.
The same issue is now apparent with patients already in hospital; once suitable for discharge, there is nobody there to help them. Elderly patients with mobility problems often require support in the home following treatment, and if the doctors and nurses treating them are concerned that adequate support will not be available at home, they have a duty to retain the patient to ensure their safety. This means that beds that would otherwise have been available to treat other, more critical, patients are being utilised by those entering a ‘black hole’ in the healthcare system.
Steps have been taken to try and resolve this problem, with the Government investing £1.2 million in volunteer schemes, designed to provide patients with the support required when they leave hospital. Todays poll suggests that this is not sufficient, and the Department of Health have confirmed that an extra £37 million is being given to Councils to fund additional social care support to ensure patients can be discharged when appropriate; paving the way for new patients to be treating as quickly as possible.
If you or anyone you know has suffered as a result of a delay in treatment or necessary services and treatment being available, please contact James Edmondson of our Medical Negligence team on 0345 2091491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.