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Bed blocking fines are not helping

Blog Post: 25 September 2017

The heralds of winter have been apparent of late with temperatures plummeting to a chilly 8 degrees C.

Inevitably we will see more pressure placed on our NHS, more stress coming the way of our care home providers to find step-down beds and the prospect of health levying fines on local authorities which cannot find suitable placements to free up ward space.

In March this year the BBC reported that more than 2,500 hospital beds a day are taken up by patients whose release has been delayed due to problems in the social care system.

The Local Government Association said under-funded authorities had placed care providers under "huge pressure".

Although the NHS is responsible for most delayed transfers, the number attributable to social care has been increasing as well.

The Beeb reported: “Out of 1.87 million delayed days between April 2016 and the end of January 2017, just over 1 million were down to the NHS. There were 635,000 where social care was responsible and 145,000 that were a mixture of both.”

Added into the complexities of the familiar ‘winter beds crisis’ are the issues of the fines.

The LGA has sought reassurances that councils will not fall victim to ‘completely counter-productive’ fines imposed by acute hospitals in cases where delayed transfers of care are deemed to be the fault of councils.

So far, according to The Times, one in six councils in England have been fined by the NHS for bed-blocking as the health service and local government go to war over social care provision.

And I though we were all supposed to be working together to solve such problems.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that social care in some cases is seen to be at fault because it has no suitable provision. Quite how we are to blame baffled me. We did not manipulate the marketplace or deliberately destabilize it.

The blame squarely lies on the austerity measures.

Moral of the story: You get what you pay for – or don’t in the case of credible rates for social care beds.