Bed-blocking has returned to haunt social services, four years after the problem should have been solved by the Delayed Discharges Act. Last year saw a sharp increase in patients kept in hospital longer than necessary.
It should not be assumed that this is all social services’ fault. On any one day 2,500 patients are held up needlessly in hospital the number was 4,000 when the legislation was introduced. Many councils have tried hard to work with the NHS so that more patients are discharged on time. But councils still lack capacity to provide appropriate care and the NHS may be tempted to discharge patients before it is safe to do so. Financial pressures on both sides are making a difficult job next to impossible.
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This article appeared in the 8 November issue under the headline “An intractable problem”