Bed-blocking cost the NHS £587m since last election, charity warns

Age UK blames lack of social care and calls on next government to increase funding 

Age UK blames lack of social care and calls on next government to increase funding 

Picture: Alamy

Bed-blocking due to a lack of social care will have cost the NHS £587 million between the last general election and the forthcoming one, a charity has calculated.

Age UK estimated that 2,750 people a day, on average, would have been kept in hospital during the period, despite being well enough to be discharged.

Lost bed days run into the millions

The charity said poor social care provision has led to 2.5 million lost bed days in the NHS over the 917 days between the elections.

The cost is equivalent to £640,000 a day, or £27,000 every hour.

Waiting for social care to be arranged is a major reason for unnecessary delays in discharge. 

Negative consequences of bed-blocking for older people

Languishing in hospital beds can have damaging effects on older people’s well-being, such as muscle wastage and a loss of confidence.

The charity wants the next government to make overhauling social care its top domestic policy.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘We are all paying the price for the inability of our politicians to fix social care, whether you are waiting endlessly for a much-needed knee operation or facing hours of delay in A&E following an accident at home.’

Case study illustrates the problem

The charity highlighted the case of 98-year-old Mo, who had been in hospital for five months following a stroke.

Age UK said he had been told he was ready to be discharged; however, he couldn't leave because his social services team had not been able to put a care package in place.

Responding to the charity’s figures, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: ‘We will invest an extra £1 billion in funding every year for more social care staff and better infrastructure, technology and facilities, and will urgently establish a cross-party consensus on a future system that will mean no one who needs care will have to sell their home to pay for it.’

Labour’s shadow minister for social care and mental health Barbara Keeley said: ‘Labour will build a National Care Service that will deliver free personal care for older people, and will invest an additional £10 billion of funding by 2023/24 to deliver thousands more care packages for people who need care.’

The Liberal Democrats have been contacted for comment.

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