HEALTH leaders have criticised the “insensitive” wording of a policy that proposes “evicting” OAPs from hospital beds.
The draft NHS policy for the county also detailed what staff should do if “resistance continues” and that pensioners face “repatriation” to another bed.
It sets out how to handle discharging patients from major hospitals to tackle the county’s chronic bed blocking problem. It happens when an OAP is well enough to leave a bed but does not because community help is not available or a patient chooses to stay.
This causes major problems for the hospital, leading to cancelled operations and long waits in the accident and emergency department.
The policy’s five steps are: giving information to; reviews, preparing for discharge; formal letters and formal eviction.
A diagram of a review stage says staff should “issue the transfer of care letter if resistance continues”.
The Oxfordshire Patient Choice, Equity and Fair Access Policy was drawn up by the trust, which provides community and mental health services, and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford and the Horton Hospital in Banbury.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) non-executive director Mike Bellamy said: “This is not the language of an organisation that is acting in a compassionate way.
“It is insensitive. It is inappropriate.
“The policy does not portray us in the way I am confortable with.”
Dr Joe McManners, clinical chairman of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), which makes NHS funding decisions, told its board on Thursday: “There needs to be a policy but it is very important it is done in the right way, in a kind and caring way.”
Interim chief operating officer Regina Shakespeare said the word eviction is “stark” and – like OHFT – said the draft policy will be reviewed, A key part of the policy is discharging patients to a community hospital such as Abingdon, that is not the nearest to their home, if that is required.
It also introduces standardised letters to patients from all organisations, saying: “If you need a community hospital, we will transfer you to the first available bed in any of those available across Oxfordshire.”
Those sent to a bed further from home are told “it is possible to repatriate you to the next available bed in your local community hospital”.
But Ian Wilson, OCCG interim chief executive, said of the letters: “I would have caution against softening this any further.
“I think we have a duty of honesty to patients and their families.”
The county is often named England’s worst for bed blocking but the latest snapshot survey, on March 2, had the lowest numbers since December 2012, with 99 ‘blocked’ patients.