Extra £4million cash boost to tackle bed-blocking crisis at Southend and Basildon hospitals

Southend and Basildon hospitals are set to benefit from a £4m cash injection to tackle the bed blocking crisis, which has led to long delays and ambulance queues.

Southend Hospital has been battling long queues of ambulances outside A&E for months, partly because there are too few beds available.

Often, this “bed blocking” is because patients are in hospital but are medically fit to be discharged but have no appropriate care.

A lack of care in community settings has been criticised, with the hospital unable to discharge patients who may be healthy enough to leave but still need medical care.

Now, the Government has allocated £3.9 million which will allow care home beds to be used for patients being discharged from hospital, to the delight of Southend MPs.

Michael Daley, chairman of the South Essex Care and Health Association, has previously criticised care beds lying empty in the community.

He said: “My concern is that this is not just a quick fix to solve this problem. Some of the patients they are referring to care homes are inappropriate. I’ve had two referrals in the last few weeks from hospital who were totally inappropriate for my home.

“One had challenging behaviour and was very aggressive towards staff. The other one was an alcoholic. They need to consider mental health issues.”

Mr Daley, who is also manager of the Cavell Lodge care home in Leigh, insisted that a “proper long-term solution” must be found.

He added: “There is also the concern about the council not placing people in homes which require improvement.  If the NHS is going to take the same attitude, I don’t know what we are going to do.”

Owen Richards, chief officer at Healthwatch Southend, said: “Healthwatch Southend welcomes any additional funding to help people be discharged from hospital at the right time. However, we need a proper, longer term, solution. There are similar pressures in the care sector around staffing which will not necessarily be fixed by short-term funding, announced during the winter period.”

Sir James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “Purchasing beds within the community will allow patients to be discharged safely into a care setting while enabling patients to be admitted quicker from A&E wards. In turn, this will help reduce the pressure on these departments and assist with cutting down the time of ambulance handovers.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter