Record numbers of Wakefield patients stranded in hospital despite being fit to leave

Record numbers of patients in Wakefield are being left stranded in hospital despite being medically fit to leave.
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Bed-blocking - where typically elderly patients cannot leave after treatment because they no social care arrangements in place - has got worse in recent years.

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The issue has been blamed on the social care crisis, with care home places at a premium and staff shortages hitting agencies that deliver support to people in their own homes.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust runs Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Picture: Scott MerryleesThe Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust runs Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Picture: Scott Merrylees
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust runs Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Picture: Scott Merrylees
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On Wednesday, 59 patients were waiting to be discharged from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, according to figures given to councillors on Wednesday.

Of those, 29 were waiting for access to a care home places, while a further 19 were waiting for a homecare package. The others had more complex needs, some of which were related to dementia.

Wakefield Council’s service director for adult social care, Nichola Esmond, said the figures were “unusually high”.

Speaking at a health scrutiny meeting on Thursday, she said: “That’s the highest I’ve ever seen.

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We’re working closely with the sector on workforce recruitment.

“Everything we do relies on having care in the community in place to keep people safe and there’s quite a lot more we need to do on that.”

Hospitals across the country have grappled with bed blocking in recent years, with the issue biting particularly during the winter when the health service is under more strain.

Last September, Mid Yorkshire - which runs Pontefract, Dewsbury and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield - said the were 127 medically fit patients waiting to go home.

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Local Labour councillor Charlie Keith said staff working in the sector deserved praise.

He told the meeting: “My father-in-law has been in this process since December 16. I’d like it to be known how the staff have been so professional and caring and expedient at such a stressful time.

“Throughout the whole process, the centre of attention has been on the patient. I’d like to offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’.”

However, the meeting heard claims that some care needs assessments, used to establish what support an elderly person needs in their own home, were extending no further than checking to see if they could make a cup of tea.

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Normanton councillor Elaine Blezard said she was aware of some patients who were being sent home without their property being fitted with necessary adaptations, like hand rails.

She said: “This was happening before Covid and since Covid it’s got worse.”

Ms Esmond replied: “Sometimes [a discharge] does go wrong and it’s really important when it does we put things in place so it doesn’t happen again.

“Staff are supposed to be trained around unsafe discharges. I’m not going to pretend that we get it right [all of the time].”

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