Mainland places sought for Islanders to clear urgent care space at St Mary's

Mainland places sought for Islanders to clear urgent care space at St Mary's <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Mainland places sought for Islanders to clear urgent care space at St Mary's (Image: Newsquest)

TWENTY-ONE Islanders have been sent to the mainland for urgent care — at a cost of £1.9 million to the taxpayer — due to a lack of placements on the Isle of Wight.

The mainland care placements were used, between April and September, to ease pressure on the Island's adult social care sector — and to make discharge easier from the Island's only hospital, St Mary's in Newport.

In recent months, the hospital has been gridlocked - better known as bed blocking.

Patients ready to go home were not able to leave, as no care packages were in place — at times affecting whole wards — and in turn, there weren't enough beds for new patients.

The Isle of Wight Council says it had no choice but to send some patients with specific care needs to the mainland, with their permission, due to the lack of capacity on the Island.

In 21 cases, the council suspended a longer, more cost-effective process, due to the urgent need to take action, resulting in a bill for £1,901,000.

In quieter times, the council must go through a full, competitive process, allowing multiple bidders to compete for a care contract.

However in these 21 cases, the system was bypassed and waivers were issued.

Speaking at the council's audit committee earlier this week, Cllr Chris Jarman called the use of waivers a crisis.

He said the Island had seen care homes closing recently and too few new ones opening — lengthening the problems.

To ease the pressure in the sector, £222,000 has been spent to increase home care capacity on the Island, by employing carers from the mainland.

Cllr Karl Love, the council's adult social care lead, said teams have been working hard to manage the pressure but are dealing with increasingly complicated cases, involving patients who need greater levels of support.