A new report by Age UK has emphasised the importance of social care services for limiting the amount of pressure on the NHS.
The document found that nearly three million (2,998,273) hospital bed days were lost between June 2010 and January 2016. This is not only having a significant impact on patient care and wellbeing but is also having a very real effect on healthcare finances, costing the NHS around £910 million per year.
These costs are the result of patients having to stay in hospital longer than is strictly necessary because they aren't able to access the social care services they need within the community or at home. This means they can't be discharged and have to stay in hospital until appropriate care can be arranged.
Age UK's findings suggest that the problem is worsening, with an increase of more than a quarter (28.4 per cent) in just two years.
This has happened despite the creation of the Better Care Fund, which aimed to reduce the number of patients experiencing delayed discharges from hospital by bringing funding together into one place.
According to the report, there was a 59.8 per cent increase in bed days lost while patients were waiting for a care package for them at home since 2014. Over the same time period, there was also a 13.8 per cent rise in bed days lost waiting for a place at a suitable nursing home placement and a 9.2 per cent boom in days lost while a residential home could be found.
The charity has released an accompanying report entitled 'Behind the Headlines'. The document looks at the various issues affecting hospital discharges and looks at the situations that are caused when people can't access the support they need after a hospital admission.
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