Nowhere to go for bedblockers

MORE residential care home beds are needed in Suffolk to prevent Ipswich Hospital from overflowing with patients in the future, it was claimed today.On Monday ambulances lined up outside the hospital because there were no beds inside to treat extra patients.

MORE residential care home beds are needed in Suffolk to prevent Ipswich Hospital from overflowing with patients in the future, it was claimed today.

On Monday ambulances lined up outside the hospital because there were no beds inside to treat extra patients.

Seven of the hospital beds were taken by patients ready to be discharged but with their care home places not yet available.

Today councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's adult and community services chief, said more spaces in residential care were needed to cope with growing demand for places from an ageing population.

Mr Newman said: “We can't have people going into hospital and stopping. We want them then to go home or to where they need to be.

“We have made efforts to reduce the number of people whose transfer is delayed from Ipswich Hospital because of social-care reasons to zero and we hope to manage that by April. A lot of progress has been made so far.

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“Sometimes it is a choice issue and we can say to someone that we have a place in a nursing home but people won't want to go to that home, and we can't make them.”

Mr Newman added that some patients also had nowhere to go because no beds were available to them. He said: “Sometimes the system is just full up.”

Currently there are 538 council-owned residential home spaces in Suffolk as well as about 1,900 privately owned beds.

Mr Newman said the aim was for the homes to usually operate at a 95per cent capacity rate so extra patients could be accommodated while budgets were still met.

He added: “The system is pressured at the moment and we have some work to do.

“It is a serious problem if we've got beds at Ipswich Hospital which can't be used because people need to get into social care.

“Over the past six months 47 new nursing beds have become available and we are continuing to work with providers to make sure more become available - we've got a growing situation here.”

Has your stay in hospital been extended because you had nowhere to go? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.