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Charity warns elderly are increasingly “trapped” in hospital

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A study by charity Age UK has found that the NHS lost nearly 2.5 million bed days due to delays in older patients being discharged. The analysis of NHS data concluded that over the past five years the number of elderly people “trapped” in hospital has increased, with an increase of 19% since last year.

The delays are said to be due to a lack of available care and support outside hospitals, with over 300,000 days lost waiting for a residential or nursing home place. Age UK said staying in hospital was bad for all concerned — the health of patients, NHS and taxpayers, with a hospital bed costing up to three times as much as residential or home care. They estimate the delays cost the NHS £669 million over the last five years.

Caroline Abrahams, from Age UK, said: “These figures show that year on year, older people are being trapped in hospital in ever greater numbers. Without decent social care when discharged, whether to their own home or to a care home, hospital stays are often much longer than they need to be and older people are more likely to be readmitted because their recovery stalls.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said that they “continue to need strong joint working between hospitals, community services, care homes and home care, which is being further helped by the extra £35 million allocated to local councils for social care so patients leaving hospital get the care and support they need."

Fiona Lowry, CEO of the Good Care Group, said: “It is upsetting to hear that many elderly people are being kept in hospital when they could be recovering better in a familiar environment: research has shown that recovery outcomes are improved when recovering at home. Our home-care services focus on providing the personalised, fully-trained support that your loved ones need, whatever their medical condition or needs, keeping their quality of life higher in their own home for as long as possible.”

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