A WATCHDOG boss who oversees the county’s chronic hospital bed-blocking problem is to help lead a national study into the worst cases.

Oxfordshire Healthwatch chairman Larry Sanders will sit as an expert panel member looking into how OAPs, people with mental health problems and the homeless are discharged.

Oxfordshire health bosses have admitted the county is among the worst for this as the county’s high number of older people put strain on hospital resources.

The probe was welcomed by East Oxford’s Mary-Jane Sareva, 52, who has battled bosses over discharge processes for her parents.

Her late father Frank, 80, refused to leave the Churchill Hospital for a place in Abingdon Community Hospital in 2010 and she was unhappy with how her mother, who suffered a stroke, was dealt with at the John Radcliffe Hospital in June.

She said: “I felt they gave up on her and they were ready to put her in a care home. Any inquiry that improve the standard of care for the elderly has got to be good.”

There has long been concern about how patients are discharged from county hospitals, with “bed blocking” delays causing misery for those who want to go home, and taking up beds for other patients who need them.

The inquiry is being led nationally by Healthwatch – the official watchdog for health and social care – and will look at why things often go wrong when people are discharged from health and social care.

Views are also being sought from the county branch on residents’ experiences of the discharge process.

Mr Sanders said: “This is a major issue around the country. I am very proud to represent the county on the national panel which is overseeing the inquiry.”

Of the 5,379 Oxford discharges in 2011/12 – the latest figures available – some 633 were readmitted, or 11.7 per cent. This was 276 out of 4,249 in 2002/03, or 6.5 per cent.

The latest snapshot survey recorded 111 Oxford patients in a bed who were well enough to go home in March.

To give your views call 01865 520520 or email hello@healthwatch oxfordshire.co.uk