Leading experts have called for greater use of a system of fines for councils that delay hospital discharges for elderly people.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has said that the current reimbursement system, which is levied against councils for each day that an acute patient spends in hospital due to a lack of social care, should be extended to elderly mental health patients.
NHS acute trusts are currently the beneficiaries of the fines, which were introduced by the Department of Health in 2004.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has put forward the proposals in its report on improving the quality of mental health services for older people and hopes that such a move could see an end to bed blocking because patients have nowhere to be moved to.
The Department of Health is thought to be considering the proposals, alongside plans to introduce fines for councils unable to find social care for other non-acute patients.