New `troubleshooter` set to tackle delayed discharge

Richard Humphries, the new head of the government’s health
and social care “change agent” team, has admitted the sector may
see him as a “trouble shooter”, writes Anabel Unity

Speaking exclusively to Community Care, he said his aim
was to reduce delayed discharge in particular areas by 2004, and
the team will be modelled on the adoption taskforce. He explained:
“The team is expected to make a real impact in reducing the number
of people being discharged from hospital.”

Humphries, who is currently director of social services and
housing at Herefordshire council and chief executive of
Herefordshire Health Authority, takes on his new seconded role in
January. He said it was too early to say when the entire team would
be recruited although he aimed to appoint eight others. “I also
want a wider pool of expertise to call upon for specific work, ” he

He said the team would not operate from a single base but be
spread across the country: “We want to be getting out there and
helping and supporting change, not being stuck in an office.”

The problem of delayed discharge, he said, was the result of
social services budgets not containing enough to deal with people
coming out of hospital; the capacity of intermediate care and
nursing home provision; and how health and social services
departments use their resources.

“At the moment it is too easy for hospitals to blame social
services, but it is not always the case. It is about trying to take
a whole view of the system,” he added.





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