Shocking cost of the 'bed blockers'

SUFFOLK'S two biggest hospitals have spent more than �400,000 caring for just 20 patients who were well enough to leave.

Anthony Bond

SUFFOLK'S two biggest hospitals have spent more than �400,000 caring for just 20 patients who were well enough to leave.

Figures obtained by the EADT reveal that the patients, 10 each at Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital, whose transfer of care has been delayed the longest - otherwise known as bed-blockers - have cost a combined total of �405,640 in the past five years.

This includes one patient who was in West Suffolk Hospital for a total of 166 days - almost half a year - which cost the hospital �30,108.

The longest-stay patient whose transfer of care was delayed at Ipswich Hospital was 151 days, which cost �211.46 per day, amounting to a total of �31,930.

Last year, a patient was in the hospital for 97 days, at a cost of �21,116, because the transfer of care was delayed.

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In total, the 10 longest stay bed-blockers have lost Ipswich Hospital 1,186 bed days since 2004 while at West Suffolk Hospital it is 1,128 days.

Patients whose transfer of care from hospital is delayed are well enough to leave an acute hospital but often need further care, such as a nursing home, or need equipment installed in their home before they can return.

The figures last night led to criticism from Suffolk health campaigner Prue Rush who said the delayed transfer of care of patients from acute hospitals is because of the closure of Suffolk's community hospitals.

“It is down to the fact that NHS Suffolk has not made the provision that they said there would be when they closed small cottage hospitals,” she said.

“When local hospitals closed we were promised that there would be provisions made for patients who needed either in-patient care or long-term care or community care and it is painfully obvious that there are not enough beds being provided for the chronically sick. As yet, the amount of care required in the community is still an aspiration rather than a fact. They have left lots of chronically ill and elderly people high and dry.”

Ipswich Hospital said it had made “significant improvements” over the past few years.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said: “The hospital can be responsible for some delays but the longer lengthy delays have been caused in the past by people waiting for specific chosen places. We have changed the way in which we deal with these and introduced a different discharge policy.

“This is historic and is not what is happening now. We have made significant improvements and we continue to deal with our partners to make sure that nobody stays in hospital any longer than they need to.”

Gwen Nuttall, chief operating officer at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We work closely with our partners across the NHS and social services to ensure that patients who are medically fit can be discharged to a more appropriate setting to meet their needs.

“In the past, patients who have chosen a specific nursing or residential home for their continued care may have waited in hospital for some time until a bed became available.

“We have now changed this arrangement and encourage patients to transfer into interim care until they are offered a bed in the place of their choice, in turn freeing up our acute beds for those in more urgent need.”

A spokesperson for NHS Suffolk added: “In recent years, the number of delayed transfers from hospital have reduced, however a small number still happen. This is partly due to the complexity of care packages people need when they leave hospital.

“NHS Suffolk continues to work closely with colleagues at Suffolk County Council and other NHS provider organisations, including West Suffolk Hospital and Ipswich Hospital, to ensure delays are minimal when patients need to be transferred into social care, or into a community hospital.''


Total days Year Cost

151 2007/8 �31,930

150 2007 �31,719

124 2006/7 �20,731

123 2006 �20,564

119 2006 �19,895

116 2006/7 �19,394

107 2006 �17,889

101 2007 �21,357

98 2007 �20,723

97 2009 �21,116

TOTAL 1186 �225,318


Total days Cost

166 �30,108

132 �21,120

125 �19,500

112 �18,504

110 �17,160

99 �15,179

98 �15,288

96 �15,360

96 �15,360

94 �12,740

TOTAL 1128 �180,319