More than a quarter of Leeds hospital beds are filled by patients fit to leave

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HEALTH bosses have pledged to tackle delays facing hundreds of patients waiting to leave hospitals in Leeds.

A major review of services found the equivalent of 435 fit people are kept in hospital beds across the city every year.

Around 27 per cent of 1,368 beds to treat people for illness and injury at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital were occupied by people no longer needing acute medical care.

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But a range of difficulties discharging them home or for alternative care left them facing delays.

The review found hundreds more people could return home to live independently rather than being transferred to care homes.

The report by consultants Newton Europe calculated 160,000 bed days a year were wasted in Leeds by patients no longer needing medical help.

Nearly 370 patients at the two major hospitals faced delays including waits for assessments, decisions about future care, or for community services to be available.

Of 50 people waiting for care homes, half could have gone home or to community care beds for further rehabilitation.

The analysis funded by NHS England and the Local Government Association found staff were unclear about complex arrangements for access to alternative to health and care services.

Only two out of 46 frontline staff questioned could correctly identify patients eligible for reablement services to help them recover at home.

A report for councillors in Leeds said the findings showed “people ended up in the wrong care for their needs and sometimes that care may be more costly”.

“The analysis showed that every organisation had some areas for improvement and that we need to work collaboratively to find solutions,” it said.

“The challenge is to ensure there is sufficient capacity in community-based services both to support admission avoidance and promote speedy discharge.”

In a statement on behalf of NHS and council leaders in the city, Coun Rebecca Charlwood, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said the review had given Leeds a “stronger understanding” of how to support patients return home.

Provision and take-up of community care beds had increased, extra funding was available for recovery in and out of hospital, and support for patients recovering from strokes and with dementia and mental health conditions had improved.

She said: “Through the partnership’s agreed ‘transfer of care’ policy, there is a joint commitment to support as many people as possible to get back home swiftly, where it is safe and appropriate.

“We have a range of services to support people’s recovery which we know are working.”

The review’s findings come ahead of results due to be published within weeks of a Care Quality Commission inquiry ordered by Ministers to investigate the way elderly patients are dealt with by NHS and social care services in Leeds.