Health chiefs say patients spending equivalent of months extra in hospital due to lack of care beds in Hartlepool
Patients from Hartlepool are using up the equivalent of more than six months of hospital time because of a shortage of care beds in town.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust reported a total of 220 extra days spent in hospital – which one director said was mainly due to a lack of places in local care homes.
Julie Gillon, chief operating officer for the trust, told the last board meeting there were no vacancies in Hartlepool for patients waiting for residential or nursing care.
But Hartlepool Borough Council, which runs social services, said there have been a number of places available in recent weeks.
The council says it is also working with potential providers which may result in an extra 200 places being created.
Ms Gillon said at the meeting on May 26: “At the moment we have no vacancies in Hartlepool for those patients waiting to be housed for either nursing or residential care and therefore there is a huge waiting list, hence why bed days are escalating.”
A Hartlepool council spokesman said: “Our records clearly show that in recent weeks there were a number of residential and nursing care vacancies.”
On Monday, May 16, there were 10 vacancies – nine for residential or nursing care and one for residential care only.
The following Monday, there were 20 vacancies – one for nursing care only, nine for residential or nursing care and 10 for residential care only.
The spokesman added: “A number of care homes have waiting lists but it isn’t possible to say exactly how many people are on them because some people are on waiting lists at more than one home.
“From a social care perspective, people are supported in alternative residential or community settings until their preference becomes available.
“The council is currently working with a number of potential new providers which could lead to the provision of around 200 extra care home beds.”
Planning permission was recently granted for a new 92-bed care home at Bishop Cuthbert.
The former Admiral Court has recently been bought with plans to refurbished and extend it, and an application from a new provider to run Highnam Hall, which closed last year, is currently being considered by the council.
The trust said due to the complexities of patients’ needs they need to make sure appropriate support arrangements are in place before they leave hospital.
It added it was working with partner organisations to manage a plan for delayed transfers of care in the future.
NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions nursing care, acknowledged the concerns around bed capacity in Hartlepool.
A spokesman said: “We have been, and continue to work pro-actively with our partners from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and Hartlepool Borough Council to address this issue.
“The CCG’s priority is to work with all partners to ensure wherever possible that people can be safely cared for outside of the hospital setting, thereby reducing the numbers of patients requiring nursing or residential care.
“Current innovative approaches to this include support for admission avoidance schemes, Better Care Fund plans and enhancement of Community Services provided by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.”