MORE than a quarter of beds at two top hospitals in Yorkshire are filled by patients fit to leave, an NHS review has revealed.
The document identified 370 people treated for illness or injury faced waits to be discharged from Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital.
Experts blamed a series of problems for delays affecting hospitals across Leeds, but also found nearly 2,000 patients each year could be discharged to care better suited to their needs.
Among key recommendations for NHS and council chiefs, they say hundreds more people from the city could return home each year rather than being transferred to care homes.
It comes as the Prime Minister today announces that health teams working in the community are to get a multi-billion funding boost in a bid to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
Theresa May pledged £3.5 billion a year in new real-terms funding for primary and community healthcare by 2023/24.
In Leeds, the results are due to be published within weeks of a Care Quality Commission inquiry ordered by Ministers to investigate the way elderly patients are dealt with by NHS and social care services in the city.
The report by consultants Newton Europe reviewed 1,368 beds for sick and injured patients at the two major hospitals in Leeds and found 27 per cent were occupied by people fit to leave.
They found nearly 40 per cent of patients with mental health problems and complex illnesses including dementia treated in 186 beds at other units in the city were also well enough for discharge. The review calculated delays meant 160,000 bed days a year were wasted in Leeds by patients no longer needing medical help –with the equivalent of 435 fit people kept in acute hospital beds for a whole year.
The review uncovered evidence people were being discharged for alternative care which did not best meet their needs.
Of 50 people waiting for a care home, they said half could have gone home or to community care beds for further rehabilitation.
The analysis funded by NHS England and the Local Government Association found staff were unclear about complex arrangements for access to alternative to health and care services.
Only two out of 46 frontline staff questioned could correctly identify patients eligible for ‘reablement services’ to help them recover at home.
In a statement on behalf of NHS and council leaders, Coun Rebecca Charlwood, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said the review gave the health and care system in Leeds a “stronger understanding” of how to support patients return home.
Provision and take-up of community care beds had increased, extra funding was available for recovery in and out of hospital and support for patients recovering from stroke and with dementia and mental health conditions at home and in the community had improved.
The consultants who carried out the Leeds report looked at services for people with mental health problems and dementia, finding nearly 40 per cent of patients faced delays.
They found better community services to support people in crisis could have prevented as many as a third of admissions.
A report for councillors in Leeds said the findings showed “people ended up in the wrong care for their needs and sometimes that care may be more costly”.
“The challenge is to ensure there is sufficient capacity in community-based services both to support admission avoidance and promote speedy discharge,” it said.