Delayed discharge fines set for next year

Social services will not face fines for delayed discharges from
hospital until 1 January 2004, writes Katie

Baroness Andrews, the government’s health spokesperson in
the House of Lords, said that while the government intends to start
the process in October, the charging aspects will not begin until
January next year.

“It means that the NHS and local authorities will have a
three-month period over the winter to prepare for full
implementation during which the charging operates only in shadow
form, and no charges for delays will change hands,” she

However, social services will need to start preparing for
effective weekend working. Saturdays will not be exempt from the
period in which a person must be discharged, and while Sundays and
public holidays will initially be excluded, they could be
introduced as early as April 2005.

Baroness Andrews said that moves should be made “towards a
more flexible approach to working hours”, and that excluding
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from the bill would
“send entirely the wrong message about what is

“That means that local authorities have nine months from
now without financial consequence to prepare for Saturday
working,” she added.

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