Caution urged over fall in bed-blocking

Delayed discharge figures are falling but there are concerns that
bed blockages are being shifted around the system, the deputy
director of the Department of Health’s Change Agent Team has

In August there were about 4,000 delayed discharges, but last month
there were only 3,500. In September 2001 the figure was more than

But Fran McCabe, deputy director of the Change Agent Team (CAT)
told a conference on managing delayed discharges in London last
week that she was cautious about the figures. Adding extra beds to
create a reduction in the number of delayed discharges could create
bottlenecks in other parts of the system, she claimed.

“We are a bit cautious about the figures going down,” she said. “We
know that in some places it is down to clearing up the data or
putting in some extra beds without getting a whole-systems approach
so that it builds up blockages in other areas of the system.”

McCabe added that the NHS and social services had to work together
if the reimbursement system was going to work properly and have
benefits for users and both sides.

Warning of “clashing agendas” in local authorities and the NHS, she
said: “There’s a lot of professional territorialism over who said
what and who’s legitimate to carry out this piece of work.”

The conference was organised by the Harrogate Centre for Excellence
in Health and Social Care.

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