Posted on 4/07/2017 by
Bed blocking in NHS hospitals has reached record levels
Care Quality Commission inspectors are to be sent into chaotic councils for the first time in a bid to improve faltering social care services.
The health watchdog will target town halls which are failing to provide enough care home spaces and community services as part of an effort to slash bed blocking in NHS hospitals.
The move, announced by Jeremy Hunt in Parliament last night, will be accompanied by the threat of financial sanctions for local authorities which fail to improve.
No one should stay in hospital longer than necessaryJeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
Until now, the CQC, whose main task is monitoring standards in the NHS, has had the power to inspect individual care homes and social care providers.
But under the new measures, inspectors will have the right to scrutinise councils themselves in an effort to tackle one of the root causes of so-called delayed transfers of care.
Reports of poor practice will be made publicly available.
The Department of Health has drawn up a list of 12 local areas where inspections will take place within a month, which include Birmingham, Manchester, Oxfordshire and Plymouth.
A summer of inspection activity will lead into a review of future Government social care grants to councils which will take place in November, with a view to securing improvements ahead of this winter.
An inability to discharge patients who no longer need hospital care is one of the principal causes of bed shortages in the NHS.
Delayed transfers of care have nearly doubled in the past two years and in February stood at a record high of 2.2 million.
A shortage of care home places - coordination for which is the responsibility of local government - and community nurses is thought to account for a third of the problem.
“No one should stay in hospital longer than necessary,” said Jeremy Hunt.
“It undermines people’s dignity and reduces their quality of life while putting pressure on our hospitals and wasting taxpayers’ money.”
“These new measures will ensure local authorities and local NHS partners play their part in tackling this issue to improve community transfers and ensure every patient has a health and care system that works for them.”
Last night the Department of Health said local authorities will be expected to set out how they plan contribute to improving bed blocking in their areas as a condition of receiving cash from the Better Care Fund, a multi-billion pound pot to ease cohesion between health and social care.
Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: “People should be able to expect good, safe care when they need it, regardless of how this care is delivered.
“And yet we know there is wide variation in how health and social care systems work together, with some local systems working together effectively to ensure people get the right care, while others struggle to do so.
“These reviews will seek to examine why these levels of variation exist.”