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Plan to free up beds in wards
A NEW deal is to be struck to help solve Oxfordshire’s bed-blocking crisis.
Latest figures show nearly 200 people are taking up hospital beds in the county when they are medically well enough to go home.
The bed-blocking problem is mostly caused when people – mainly the elderly or disabled – are unable to go back home without extra care being put in place or home adaptations to allow them to live independently.
But under a new plan, the number of people being helped after hospital discharge in the county looks set to double.
Health bosses will only be paid for every person they help, rather than getting cash up-front as presently.
The county council hopes the move will swell the number of people helped from 1,800 now to 3,250 in the next year and 3,750 after that.
Managers will then get a bonus if they exceed this. No costs have yet been agreed.
The “reablement” service provides home visits to help people who have suffered an illness or injury with tasks like getting out of bed.
Oxfordshire has consistently recorded the worst results for bed-blocking in the country.
Oxfordshire county councillor Arash Fatemian said the new scheme introduced “a very significant incentive” to solve the problem.
He said Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the service on behalf of the county council – must show it has helped each patient lead an independent life.
He said: “If it does not do so, it will not be paid.”
Mr Fatemian, cabinet member for adult services, said: “By getting more people into the service we should see a knock-on reduction in delayed transfers of care from acute and community hospitals.”
Trust spokesman Wendy Samways said: “People using reablement experience greater improvements in physical functioning and improved quality of life compared with using standard home care.”
Campaigners and health bosses welcomed the news as a step towards preventing patients from enduring long, stressful stays on wards.
Age UK spokesman Rachelle Kennedy said: “It is very encouraging to see concrete commitments and targets from the council.”
A spokesman for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is leading efforts to tackle bed-blocking, said: “Supporting more people to remain at home should have a knock-on effect to reduce unplanned admissions to hospital and reduce the delays that some people are experiencing when being discharged from hospital.”
Paul Brennan, director of clinical services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We welcome this new approach.
“We hope that it will mean that patients are able to access reablement services more quickly and so move to more appropriate care settings for them, freeing up beds for other patients.”
But Mary-Jane Sareva, of East Oxford, whose late father Frank, 80, refused to leave hospital after being offered a community hospital bed, was sceptical.
She said: “The county council has reduced so much care for people at home. I don’t have the confidence the care packages will be appropriate.”
The council is cutting £37m from its £195m social care bill between 2011 and 2015.
Latest snapshot bed-blocking figures, for February, show 194 county people were waiting longer than they should.
A total 5,784 bed days were lost that month – the highest in England – compared to 4,029 in April last year and 6,335 in October.
Of the 194, some 138 were waiting for community NHS care, a care home bed or support to live in their own homes. A further 38 could not leave hospital because they had not been assessed.