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Bed blocking rises at two Norfolk hospitals in latest NHS figures

Stock photo of a hospital ward. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Stock photo of a hospital ward. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA Wire

Bed blocking at two of the region’s hospitals has risen in the latest figures released by NHS England.

Data published on delayed transfers of care from July showed the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn suffered an extra 190 delayed days in July, up from 295 in June.

And the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) saw a slight rise of 21 days.

It came as the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston saw a 73 day drop between the two months.

Delayed transfers of care (also known as bed blocking) occur when inpatients are medically fit for discharge but support for them – in their homes, a care home, or in further NHS care – is not in place.

Richard Parker, NNUH chief operating officer, said: “We have expanded our integrated discharge team over the past 18 months and this additional support and expertise has helped us reduce the length of stay for ‘stranded’ patients – those with a hospital stay of over 14 days – from over 300 patients to just over 140 patients.

“Our teams are constantly working hard to improve the efficiency of the hospital and ensure we offer the best possible care for our patients.”

Nationally, nearly six out of 10 people delayed in hospital were unable to leave because they require further NHS services, with just over a third awaiting support from council social care.

This causes issues for the NHS as it reduces the number of beds available for those who need them.

But there are also effects on the patient.

The National Audit of Intermediate Care found for older patients “a wait of more than two days negates the additional benefit of intermediate care, and seven days is associated with a 10 per cent decline in muscle strength”.

As well as the region’s hospitals, other healthcare providers were also listed in the data.

East Coast Community Healthcare and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust both lowered their delayed days from June.

However, figures at Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust rose.

Lorrayne Barrett, director of integrated care at NCHC, said, “We are aware of the pivotal role that our community beds have to play in the system in terms of flow and people getting their care in the right place. People who use our beds have complex needs and often need complex arrangements to be discharged – changes in society and life expectancy mean that we are seeing new levels of complexity and higher levels of support needed to meet people’s needs.

“These new challenges reach across all areas of health and social care and we are working with our partners to improve the speed of our discharges. A good example of this is where we are working with the North and South CCGs and Norfolk County Council and North Norfolk Primary Care to deliver the new supported care service, improving our approach and become more efficient.”

The other organisations were contacted for comment, but were unable to reply in time for publication.

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