£6 million toll of Leeds hospitals bed blockers

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Bed-blocking in Leeds cost £6m in 15 months, according to new figures.

That put the city third in the country for the cost of delays in discharging patients from hospital.

Between August last year (2010) and October 2011, there was nearly a 50 per cent increase in these delays in Leeds, analysis of Department of Health figures by the Labour Party show.

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Waits for places at residential homes, other healthcare, care packages or adaptations to housing were among the reasons patients may be stuck in hospital.

Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow minister for care and older People, said: “Every day, thousands of older people are stuck in hospital when they could be getting care in the community or at home. This is costing the NHS millions of pounds – money hard pressed taxpayers can ill afford to waste.

“Yet despite all the evidence of the growing care crisis for older people, the Government refuses to listen.”

In Leeds, delayed discharges have risen by 43 per cent, from 1,279 during the month of August 2010 to 1,835 during October 2011.

That equates to almost 24,000 days of delays.

As each day’s delay is worked out as costing £260, the total cost for Leeds is £6.18m over 15 months. Across the country, the number of delayed discharges has increased by 16 per cent during that time and has cost £239m.

More than three-quarters of bed-blocking from hospitals nationally involved patients aged 75 or over.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is on course to achieve a national target on delayed discharges, despite numbers increasing, as levels were low previously.

The hospital said it had a good working relationship with Leeds City Council’s adult social care department and NHS community healthcare, who are responsible for arranging continuing care.

An NHS Leeds spokesman said: “We recognise that there has been an increase in delayed discharges this year, they still remain significantly below the national average.

“We can reassure patients and the wider public that every effort is being made to improve the current position. Sometimes there are clear medical reasons to delay a patient’s discharge and our overriding concern will always be to offer the best possible care to our patients.”

He added organisations worked closely to reduce delayed discharges and improvements planned included better transfers of care in readiness for winter and liaising with housing colleagues to cut delays for patients awaiting adaptations.

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