Council tops inner London league table for reducing bed blocking
Published: Thursday 19th January 17
Social workers in Wandsworth are pulling out all the stops to make sure that local people have good care packages in place so they can be discharged from hospital without suffering delays.
Wandsworth’s adult social services department is currently ranked the best in inner London when it comes to arranging safe and timely discharges from hospital.
Across London as a whole only Redbridge currently has a better record on tackling bed blocking, according to NHS/Department of Health figures. Wandsworth has remained one of London’s best performing authorities in this crucial area since at least 2010.
Bed blocking, or delayed transfer of care (DTOC) as it is officially known, occurs when patients cannot be discharged from hospital because they do not have appropriate support systems in place to care for them when they arrive home.
Hold-ups can occur if carers or other community services have not been arranged, if home adaptations have not been completed or, if when required, a suitable residential or nursing home place has not been secured.
Delayed discharges mean that acute-care hospital beds are occupied by people who do not need to be there, which has a serious knock-on effect on NHS in-patient services.
It also means that people are unnecessarily forced to remain on a hospital ward when they would much rather recover and recuperate in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.
Many delays occur when agencies involved in health and social care do not properly communicate with each other.
Cabinet member for adult care and health Cllr Jim Maddan said: “Bed blocking is a serious problem for the NHS, so it is vital that social workers work closely with health service colleagues to ensure the right care packages are in place so patients can be safely released from hospital when they are ready and well enough to leave.
“As well as liaising closely with hospital staff, councils need to make sure they put in sufficient resources so that social workers can arrange decent care packages that properly meet the needs of patients.
“In Wandsworth we treat this as an absolute priority which is why we have seen consistently good results in this key area of responsibility over a prolonged period of time. Our discharge planning commences when a patient is first admitted, not when they are ready to leave.
“Looking forward we will continue to focus on strong working relationships with NHS clinical staff, develop even better integrated working and continue to make sure that patients get the best possible service.”