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Taxpayers face a £2.5m bill after bed-block plan fails
A FLAGSHIP plan by Oxfordshire County Council to tackle the bed-blocking crisis has cost taxpayers £2.5m, it has emerged.
Bed-blocking happens when patients are clinically well enough to be discharged but not well enough to return home. They are kept in hospital beds while health or social care arrangements are put in place.
Director for social and community services John Jackson has admitted the plan had “failed” and had caused around 100 more people to take up care home places for longer than expected, meaning patients in hospitals couldn’t be transferred to them.
Oxfordshire has consistently been the worst place in the country for bed blocking and in April County Hall launched its new plan, ‘discharge to assess’, to tackle it.
The system sees patients sent home from hospitals to wait for assessments by social services rather than taking up beds on wards.
But in more than 100 cases patients were instead sent to care homes to wait for assessment and, of these, just five did not take up a permanent placement.
News that County Hall is expecting to miss its target on care home admissions was revealed last week, but the full scale of the failure has only now emerged. Mr Jackson said: “When we brought in ‘discharge to assess’ we included within it a pathway in which people leave hospital and go to care homes for assessment.
“That pathway has failed and has contributed to a significant number of care home placements being made.
“My understanding is that we have had well over 100 patients and only five have not ended up in permanent care placement.
“That is completely against what we hoped to do. We estimate that cost of it being available was £2.5m.”
The county council cancelled the care home beds scheme in August, and now relies on patients’ homes and community hospitals to carry out assessments.
The failure has also contributed to a £5m overspend in the council’s pooled budget for health and social services with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Both organisations pooled £188m of their cash – County Hall contributed £100m to the pot — to avoid duplicating services.
Last week, the Oxford Mail revealed that 582 elderly people are expected to be permanently admitted into care homes this year. This would be 182 people – or 45.5 per cent – higher than the county council’s target of 400.
In July, Oxfordshire regained its status as the worst place of 154 NHS hospital trusts in the country for bed-blocking, with 148 blocked – compared to 128 in June.
But latest figures, for August, show the number of people had fallen to 144 and Oxfordshire is now the third worst, behind Hertfordshire and Birmingham.
Earlier this month the Government handed over £10.2m to Oxfordshire’s health and social services to tackle the winter pressures this year, including bed blocking.
Long Wittenham resident Ann Tomline was bed-blocked at the John Radcliffe Hospital after suffering a fall and damaging her ligaments in February.
She spent 36 hours in the hospital because there were no beds in a community hospital.
She said: “I am shocked and appalled, but I am not surprised. It was a badly thought out scheme.
“They need to put more beds into community hospitals.”
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