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Bed-blocking figures rise

5th November 2007

New statistics have revealed that delays in discharging patients from hospital - also referred to as "bed-blocking" - showed a substantial increase in 2006.


In 2005/06, 756,581 "bed-days" were lost because of delays in releasing patients from acute hospitals. The term "bed day" is used to describe one day when a bed could not be used for a new patient because the person previously in the bed had remained there for too long.

Delays in discharging patients from hospitals do not necessarily mean that staff take too long to ensure patients can leave. Instead, they are commonly due to delays involved in organising care for patients who are recovering from major operations or severe illness.

The figures for lost "bed-days" rose to 963,776 - a rise of nearly 30% - last year. When numbers are added from community hospitals, it shows that more than a million days were lost.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesman Norman Lamb MP said: "It's a crazy situation. It's down to a failure to integrate effectively health and social care."

Gordon Lishman of Age Concern said that often elderly patients were kept in hospital beds because they had "nowhere else to go". He said that the health service and social services had not made the provision for support for these patients, which meant hospitals could not discharge them safely.

The government's Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis stated that over a six-year period, figures showed a 71% drop in delayed discharges.

"By March 2007, on an average day, just over 2,000 patients had their discharge delayed compared to over 7,000 in September 2001."

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Article Information

Title: Bed-blocking figures rise
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4670
Date Added: 5th Nov 2007


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