Nearly one-third of Norfolk hospital patients are bed-blocking'

Nearly one in three hospital patients in Norfolk is taking a bed unnecessarily because of insufficient home-based care in the county, a health chief said last night.

Nearly one in three hospital patients in Norfolk is taking a bed unnecessarily because of insufficient home-based care in the county, a health chief said last night.

Tony Hadley, deputy director of provider services at Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) said alternative arrangements to look after more patients in their own homes would greatly ease “bed-blocking” at hospitals in the county.

But such initiatives will not be put into effect for about a year when the PCT intermediate care strategy comes into force, replacing 23 axed community hospital beds with more home care.

In the meantime, bosses at the PCT, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Norfolk Social Services said the bed-blocking situation at the N&N, as reported in yesterday's EDP, was not at crisis point.

Representatives from all three organisations are meeting next

week to discuss what action they could take to tackle present levels

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at Norfolk's flagship hospital.

Mr Hadley cited recent research which revealed that 30pc of patients in cottage hospital beds would be better cared for at home.

He said: “The audit we conducted before the consultation demonstra-ted that 30pc of patients that were in hospital could have been cared for better at home, had sufficient resources been in the community.”

Mr Hadley went on to say that bed-blocking was not as acute in west Norfolk where more home-based care was available.

He added: “The numbers of patients currently in the N&N for which we will be providing community care are not unusual and, as always, we continue to work closely with the N&N and our social care partners.”

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council, said bed-blocking at the moment was slightly higher than average, but said figures fluctuated.

Yesterday, 41 patients at the N&N were waiting for a transfer to social services care, such as a residential home place, and 28 were waiting for space in a PCT-run unit, such as a community hospital.

Mr Bodmer said: “There is not a county-wide problem in finding home support for people who want to remain in their own homes.

“However, in some of the more rural areas it can be problematic finding home support, particularly for people being discharged from hospital who need several visits from a home support worker each day.”

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