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Bed-blocking is back to worst in country
OXFORDSHIRE has regained its position as the worst place in England for bed-blocking, new figures reveal.
Last month, 148 people were bed-blocked in the county, a rise from 128 in June and the worst figure for the month since records began in August 2010 – last July it was 115.
The county overtook Birmingham with 131 and Hertfordshire 140, which it had been behind, to regain its place as the worst of 154 NHS hospital trusts.
In the 36 months since the Department of Health began recording the figures, Oxfordshire has been the worst in England on 19 occasions.
Bed-blocking happens when hospital patients are well enough to be discharged but cannot be because social care arrangements have not been put in place.
Historically, bed-blocking is worst in winter, although Oxfordshire saw a fall at the start of last winter before the numbers rose again in January.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and Oxfordshire County Council brought in measures earlier this year to tackle the problem.
But Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, chairwoman of Oxfordshire watchdog Patient Voice, said: “I don’t think the measures are working. They are working really hard to do it, but it has obviously had no impact. I think they ought to call a public meeting to get new ideas.
“The big worry is that winter has not started yet. Let’s hope we have a mild winter this year.”
In April, OCCG, which commissions healthcare, and the county council, which runs adult social care, launched a ‘discharge to assess’ policy to tackle bed-blocking.
It involves assessing patients for social care in their homes rather than when they are still in a hospital bed.
Two years ago OCCG chief executive Dr Stephen Richards, appointed as the leader of a taskforce for bed-blocking, vowed to tackle the issue “head-on”, but he admitted in June the situation was still unacceptable.
Ann Tomline, from Long Wittenham, was bed-blocked at the John Radcliffe Hospital after suffering a fall and damaging her ligaments in February.
She spent a “very depressing” 36 hours in the Headington hospital because there were no beds in a community hospital.
She said: “It is worrying because another couple of months and winter will be upon us.”
The OCCG referred the Oxford Mail to a statement in June, when it said the work of NHS and social care bosses was “not yet reflected” in the numbers. “Detailed plans” were being put in place for winter and managers said they were “confident the extra effort and resources would make a real difference”.
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