Delayed discharge fines could force older people into
“inappropriate” accommodation that does not serve their
needs, according to public health academics, writes
The rights of chronically sick and older people to choose their
own care home is likely to be undermined by the new system, which
came into effect this month, they warned.
Since October last year, ‘shadow fines’ operated as hospitals
notified social services departments of patients who may need
social care on discharge. Now the system has officially gone live,
social services departments will be charged £100 a day (or
£120 in London and the south east) if they fail to arrange
care packages for patients assessed as needing one within two days
Allyson Pollock and David Rowland, from the school of public
policy at University College London (UCL), have written an article
in the British Medical Journal warning of the dangers and pitfalls
in the Community Care (Delayed Discharge) Act.
Patients who exercise their right to choose account for eight
per cent of all delayed discharges. According to the researchers,
the new measures will make choice for older patients an obstacle to
the new system.
If their first choice of care home is not available, older
people may be offered an interim placement which could be a long
distance away from their family and local community.
The Registered Nursing Home Association has warned that the
continuing loss of beds in independent nursing homes is likely to
leave some councils finding it difficult to arrange patients’
discharge from hospital in time to avoid being fined.