SOCIAL care cuts are partly behind an increase in the number of patients trapped in hospital when they no longer require treatment, a health chief has claimed.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, told a recent board meeting they should be concerned about the cuts as they could hamper efforts to speed up the discharge of patients.
“When I came here two and half years ago the average number of delayed transfers of care was about 30 to 40, that increased to about 70 the following year and this year they are going to be 90 to 100.” he said.
“That is evidence as to what I have said about the increase in the number of elderly patients presenting at the front door, but key is working with our social care colleagues who are going through a number of cuts in their funding which is having an impact in terms of our ability to move patients out.”
He added during August the number of delayed discharges peaked at 112 and without action next year the average number could be up around 120.
The Trust has warned it will start to issue fines unless progress is made.
Analysis of figures released by NHS England show the number of days of care lost due to delayed discharges in Worcestershire increased by 20 per cent between April and August this year compared with 2013/14 from 6,949 to 8,310.
The social care system alone is responsible for 2,462 of them, up 38 per cent on the same period 12 months ago, but the vast majority are linked to issues within acute and community hospitals.
Worcestershire County Council plans to cut £32million from the adult social care as part of plans to trim about £150million from its budget by 2016/17.
But while the council accepts delayed discharges have increased since April they dispute the figures. The authority insists the NHS is responsible for 90 per cent of delays with just 10 per cent caused by adult social care, amounting to 620 so far this year.
They say while NHS delays are up 50 per cent since April, adult social care delays have increased by just five per cent.
Coun Sheila Blagg, responsible for adult social care on the council, said: “We want to help people to return home wherever possible and earlier this summer we introduced a new service which enables people to return home with support in place and access to therapy services, all within hours of clinical staff deciding the individual is ready for discharge. We are also a partner in the new Patient Flow Centre which will ensure people can be discharged to the right place to continue treatment, recovery or rehabilitation.”