Shortage of nursing beds sees Hartlepool patients spending months longer in hospital

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

Elderly and disabled patients are spending the equivalent of months extra in hospital due to problems in finding nursing beds in Hartlepool.

A shortage of available nursing bed places in town due to restrictions placed on four homes admitting new residents is causing substantial bed blocking.

Paul Garvin Chairman of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust sitting at the top table during the Hartlepool Hospital meeting held in the Town Hall Theatre. Picture by FRANK REID

Paul Garvin Chairman of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust sitting at the top table during the Hartlepool Hospital meeting held in the Town Hall Theatre. Picture by FRANK REID

The block on new admissions has been as a result of inspections carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulator.

Hospital leaders for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust heard in the last four weeks patients have spent an additional 101, 109, 139 and 145 days a week in hospital beds while awaiting places in Hartlepool.

Julie Gillon, hospital trust chief operating officer, said: “Some of that is cumulative, but you can see the impact that does have.”

She added: “The trust is working with commissioners about how we manage patient pathways more appropriately.”

We’ve got patients sitting in acute beds, they’re fit to go somewhere else and they really want to be on their way

Paul Garvin, chairman of Norh Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

Ms Gillon said that could involve the trust providing community matrons and district nursing care in residential settings.

She said the trust had offered to Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide nursing beds at the University Hospital of Hartlepool but it was not preferred by the CCG.

Patients waiting to get a place in their chosen nursing home is also contributing to the delays.

The trust said elderly patients’ needs can be complex and it has to ensure that appropriate support arrangements are in place before they leave hospital.

A spokesman said: “Our priority is to work with our partners in the interest of the patients to ensure they are discharged home or into residential or nursing care as appropriate.”

Trust chairman Paul Garvin said: “At the end of the day we’ve got patients sitting in acute beds, they’re fit to go somewhere else and they really want to be on their way.”

The CCG said it was working pro-actively with the hospital trust and Hartlepool Borough Council, which is responsible for adult social care, to address the issue.

A spokesman said: “NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group does have concerns regarding nursing beds and space within care homes in Hartlepool.

“Work is being undertaken to improve the quality within nursing residential homes to reduce the potential of Care Quality Commission enforcement action in the future.

“The CCG is working with partners to ensure people can be cared for outside of the hospital setting to reduce the numbers of patients needing nursing or residential care.

“This is being addressed through admission avoidance schemes, Better Care Fund plans and enhancement of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s community services.”

The council said it is aware of the current situation around availability of nursing home beds and is working with partner organisations to try to address the situation.