Bed blocking costs Leeds taxpayers £10 million

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More than £10million has been spent on hospital beds for Leeds patients who have been well enough to go home over the last three years.

The rising toll of ‘bed blocking’, where the discharge of patients is delayed due to issues like waiting for care home places, further NHS care or assessments, saw almost 1,800 Leeds hospital patients experience delays in 2014 alone.

The £10m that LTH appears to have spent on blocked beds could have been used to treat patients.

Figures accounting for the numbers of ‘delayed days’, a day in which a hospital bed has been filled by a patient who could have been sent home, show the issue is only getting worse.

According to statistics obtained as part of the YEP’s Your Right to Know campaign, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH) recorded more than 20,000 delayed days last year – almost a quarter more than in 2013.

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has called for an urgent review, branding the YEP’s figures “concerning”. He said: “The £10m that LTH appears to have spent on blocked beds could have been used for treating patients instead.”

NHS England statistics, which break up incidents of bed blocking monthly, show that the most recent figures for January this year rank LTH as having the fourth highest number of delayed days – 2,460 – when compared to 156 other trusts.

The reasons for those delays are markedly different when January 2014 and 2015 are compared. Waiting for a place at a care home, nursing home or for home care provision accounted for more than a quarter of cases in January, but just a sixth of 1,270 cases the year prior, while delays awaiting further non-acute NHS care or assessments remained big issues.

Bed blocking can mean those who need care face delays elsewhere such as in A&E. One Leeds patients’ discharge was delayed by 175 days last year.

The news comes at a time when hospital trusts nationwide are being urged by NHS England to free up beds ahead of the Easter bank holiday.

Suzanne Hinchliffe, deputy chief executive at LTH, said delayed transfers have been “a very significant challenge” over winter, while plans are in place for the “well-known point of pressure” of Easter. She said: “Our staff have been working incredibly hard to maintain services and provide safe, high quality patient care in the face of sustained demand.”