Transport is a key factor in preventing people from leaving
hospital, the head of policy at Age Concern England told the health
select committee, writes Katie
Helena Herklots said that “something as simple” as getting
transport to the hospital on the day of discharge can be a problem,
and added that whether a person is discharged is often dictated by
the situation outside the hospital.
“The problem is what happens in the hospital is determined by
what is available in the local area,” she said. “If there is
availability of care home places at a fee the local authority can
pay then a person can be discharged. But more often there is a
waiting time for a placement or no places available at the local
However, she added that anecdotal evidence suggests if someone
is able to top up or pay their own fees they are likely to get out
of hospital earlier.
Herklots believes that a lack of preventive measures results in
unnecessary hospital admissions and recognises that internal
hospital communications can cause delays.
Tessa Harding, head of policy at the Social Policy Ageing
Information Network, said that good planning does not always take
place, and people are often discharged at the last minute. She
added that problems also occur because social services do not have
the money for night care or a residential home place.
“People are stuck in hospital because the services aren’t
there for them to return home,” she said. “
However, Diana Whitworth, chief executive of Carers UK, told the
committee that carers complain about people being discharged too
soon from hospital and that some people experienced a “roundabout”
of being discharged and readmitted. She said she hears “frequent
stories” of people being discharged too soon.