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Care system slated over beds crisis

PUBLISHED: 02:19 27 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:45 03 March 2010

THE state of Suffolk's health and social care systems has been slammed in a new report about hospital bedblocking.

In the report, called Addressing Delayed Transfers of Care: A Joint Action plan, for Suffolk County Council/NHS Partnership Board, associate director of planning and commissioning John Lewis said the county's 81 bedblockers were a symptom of a system under pressure.

By Tracey Sparling

THE state of Suffolk's health and social care systems has been slammed in a new report about hospital bedblocking.

In the report, called Addressing Delayed Transfers of Care: A Joint Action plan, for Suffolk County Council/NHS Partnership Board, associate director of planning and commissioning John Lewis said the county's 81 bedblockers were a symptom of a system under pressure.

He said: "Delayed transfers are symptomatic of imbalances, lack of capacity, inefficiencies and underfunding in the whole health and social care system for older people."

His comments are due to be discussed at Suffolk Health authority's board meeting in Lowestoft on Wednesday.

Members will also discuss an action plan for county improvements which will cost £3.7 million.

Although 42 per cent of Suffolk bedblockers are waiting for a place in a nursing home or residential home, only six per cent are waiting for a home care package to be arranged, and another 17pc are simply waiting to be assessed because the system can't keep up with demand.

As well as beds in acute hospitals being blocked, there are also another 142 people classed as "delayed transfers of care" in the county's community hospital beds.

The report also reveals how extra investment and other measures reduced the number of bedblockers by 28pc between October 2000 and January 2001.

But the numbers increased again over the spring and summer, and there is still an average of 50-60 people blocking beds at Ipswich Hospital every week.

Most are aged over 65, and people over 65 now occupy two thirds of acute hospital beds and their average age is 81.

The report added: "For most people who do not need to be there, particularly for frail and older people, acute hospitals are not conducive to long-term health and wellbeing. Hospital-based infections are more frequent among older people and acute hospital environments do not encourage independence for a frail or disabled older person.

"Every delayed transfer of care means cancelled operations, people waiting for transfer in A&E departments, and so on."

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