Towards the end of 2010 concerns were growing at the number of patients remaining unnecessarily in hospital. The government has now announced its plans to avoid a potential 'bed blocking' explosion.
In the latter half of the last year the number of elderly people stuck in hospitals with councils failing to to find care for them soared. Indeed, the number of persons unnecessarily detained in hospital in September stood at 7,000 - a rise of 80% since May and the highest figure for over 3 years.
The Department of Health is now to make an extra £162 million available for frontline services after a successful efficiency drive, the Health Secretary announced today. Andrew Lansley said savings made in consultancy, IT, administration and advertising would be used to help patients to leave hospital more quickly, receive support at home, and to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital.The money will be given to primary care trusts and local authorities, who will decide how best to use the funding to relieve additional pressures on hospitals over the winter period.
Mr Lansley said: "Savings have been made in the Department of Health's budget which can now be invested in frontline NHS services. It's really important, particularly at this time of year, that we help people to leave hospital as quickly as they can, when they are ready.The latest figures show that 2,575 beds are unavailable due to delayed transfers of care."
Mr Lansley went on: "This additional investment for health and care services is the result of determination to deliver savings, maintain quality and invest in services that matter to patients and their families and carers during the critical winter season."
The funding will bring forward plans being put in place by health and local authorities to work together using NHS funding to support social care, as announced in the Government spending review.The Department of Health said the extra £162 million of funding was in addition to the previously announced £70 million that the NHS will spend this year on "reablement" services.
Care Services Minster Paul Burstow said: "It is absolutely crucial that the NHS and local authorities work together to help people leave hospital when they are ready. The benefits are on all sides - patients get to go home with the support they and their families need, and hospital beds are freed up."