Why bed blocking affects us all and costs £669m a year

A new national report from Age UK reveals that a staggering £669million is spent keeping people in hospital each year while they wait for the right social-care packages to be put in place for their discharge from hospital.

That’s everything from home adjustments to a home carer or a place in a residential home.

These are the key services that give people the right care and support in the right place when they’re discharged from hospital.

Age UK Northumberland’s CEO Angela Murray said: “NHS beds cost a lot more than social care.

“An NHS bed costs on average £1,925 a week compared to about £356 for a week’s home care for three hours per day.

“Without the right sort of care available when people get out of hospital, stays are often longer than they need to be and older people are more likely to be readmitted.”

Nationwide, there has been a big jump in the number of patients kept in hospital because the support they needed wasn’t available in time.

Last year, 44 per cent more patients were waiting for health and social-care packages before discharge from hospital compared to 19 per cent in the same period in 2013.

Angela Murray said: “These delays are happening against the backdrop of £2.4billion in national cuts from social-care budgets for older people since 2010, mostly as a result of reduced funding for local government from central government.

“Not surprisingly, local authorities are finding it more and more difficult to provide the social care people need.

“A properly resourced social-care system would transform many older people’s lives and makes sound financial sense. By beating this problem, more people of all ages could get speedier treatment in hospital when they need it. Northumberland has one of the highest proportions of people aged over 65 in their population and that means increasing numbers of older people who will need good social care in the future.

“Age UK Northumberland is working with older people to find new and more effective ways to provide that support in the wider community.”