Inspectors urge bosses to stem bed block crisis

Bed-blocking has put huge pressures on patient flow through Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy
Bed-blocking has put huge pressures on patient flow through Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy

Health and social care bosses have been ordered by the Care Inspectorate to tackle Fife’s ongoing bed blocking crisis “as a matter of urgency”.

A first-ever joint inspection of the new Fife Partnership concluded elderly people were lingering in hospital beds mainly due to the unavailablity of home care packages.

It also urged Fife Council and Fife NHS - due to formally join up services from April - to “significantly increase” the partnership’s pace of change.

Two categories were assessed as having a “good” level of service, while one area - policy development - was described as being “weak”.

The report highlighted “positive outcomes” for some older people from services which aimed to avoid hospital admissions but services for those already in hospital and medically fit for discharge were “mixed” and “patchy”.

The report acknowledged NHS Fife’s new discharge hubs but said it was “too early”to say if they had made an impact.

A total of 10 recommendations for improvement have now been made.

Steve Grimmond, Fife Council’s chief executive said layed discharge was proving “challenging due to the balancing of increasing demand for community services with resources available.”

“In Fife, action is being taken through a joint plan which includes recruitment of more social workers, more home care and additional places within residential and nursing homes to help people gain confidence and independence,” he said.

Recently, Fife Council and NHS Fife approved £1 million additional funding between now and end of April 2015 to address bed blocking.

Brian Montgomery, NHS Fife Interim Chief Executive, said: “As we continue to work closer with social work and care providers on how we care for vulnerable members of society the need for a change to systems is clear and we must continue to work together.

“ As a priority, action is needed to shift more care provision to community settings and to help minimise people’s stay in hospital.”

Parliament vows to end problem

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Shona Robison announced a £100 million three-year fund to help Scottish regions eradicate bed-blocking. Fife has been allocated £6.73 million.

Ms Robison, who controversially revealed the fund first on breakfast TV, said: “My plan is to get rid of delayed discharge, for it to become something of the past, and move to a 72-hour standard where people are discharged within 72 hours of being clinically ready.”