Government ‘ignored’ agencies’ worries on delayed discharge fines

The government’s decision to press ahead with legislation to fine
social services for delayed discharges was made despite clear
concerns raised during the consultation process.

Under the Community Care (Delayed Discharges) Bill, social services
departments will have to pay a hospital the cost of looking after a
patient if their discharge is delayed because care has not been
arranged in the community.

However, more than three-quarters of the 268 organisations and
agencies that responded to the consultation document outlining
these proposals in September warned that the reimbursement
proposals could damage partnerships.

More than half claimed that it was unrealistic to put together a
care plan for discharge in three days if patients, carers and
families were always to be involved. They warned that it could lead
to poor decisions that curtailed the patient’s independence.

Almost a third raised the issues of funding and capacity in health
and social care, while a quarter believed that April was too soon
for implementation.

Responses were received from councils, primary care trusts, NHS
trusts and voluntary, professional and provider organisations.

Meanwhile, the Mental After Care Association (Maca) has expressed
concern that the bill could lead to mental health patients in
hospital being discharged earlier than they should be and has
called for safeguards to prevent this happening.

The charity warned that there was a danger that, to avoid paying
hospital fines, local authorities would accept discharged patients
before proper accommodation and services had been sorted out.

Maca said the proposals went against government moves to create
better joint-funding arrangements between local authorities and
health authorities.

It also stressed that the additional financial burden on councils
would not help them to create the new mental health services that
are needed to meet the national service framework.

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