Bristol City Council planning to spend £4m to free up blocked beds in hospitals

-Credit: (Image: Getty)
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Bristol City Council is planning to spend almost £4 million this year on freeing up blocked beds in hospitals. Many elderly patients in hospitals across the country are not sick enough to need to be there, but there is often a struggle to find somewhere safe to discharge them to.

These patients are sometimes known derogatively as “bed blockers”, but their unnecessarily lengthy stays in hospitals are mostly due to delays to paperwork or a lack of capacity in care homes or reablement centres. This also means there are fewer available hospital beds.

The government is paying councils millions through its discharge fund grant, aiming to move on patients from hospital more quickly and prevent unnecessary admissions. A report to the adult social care committee, which will meet on Monday, July 1, detailed how the cash will be spent.

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According to the report, the programme is “supporting people to leave hospital, when appropriate to do so, and continuing their recovery, support and assessment out of hospital, returning to their own homes and communities whenever possible”.

Bristol has now established Transfer of Care Hubs within hospitals and made improvements in discharging people more promptly. Government grants will be used to build additional capacity in social care and community-based reablement facilities, as well as maximise the number of hospital beds freed up.

This year the council aims to spend £3,975,961 on the programme. This includes spending on social workers, home care, reablement beds, and £75,000 on the We Care and Repair Home Improvement Agency, which carries out “deep home cleaning to prevent hospital discharge delays”.

The adult social care services take up just under half of the council’s day-to-day spending, costing taxpayers £198 million in the last financial year. In 2022, the council closed the South Bristol Rehab Centre, in a bid to save £500,000 a year. The East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre was also earmarked for closure as part of budget cuts.