Patients waiting to be sent home

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

HARTLEPOOL patients spent hundreds of days waiting to be discharged from hospital according to official new figures.

The number of “delayed days” for patients within the Hartlepool area has rocketed more than 300 per cent in the last 12 months.

In June last year, patients spent 56 days in hospital because appropriate care was not ready.

But by June this year that figure had leaped to 255 delayed days in the Hartlepool area, an increase of 355 per cent.

Hospital managers at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said they work with partners in the community to see patients discharged into the appropriate care.

But they explained it can be a complex issue to get everything in place.

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

“It is disappointing when we see the delayed discharges increasing because this means that patients who have been told by our doctors that they can leave are kept in hospital when their needs would be better met either at home with support or in a nursing home.

“Discharge can be a complex issue because there are often many factors and many different organisations involved.

“Of course patients and their families also have choice of where they are cared for when they leave hospital and this can result in further delays if their choice cannot be immediately met.

“The system could work better. It is simply that each organisation has its own systems to work to and joining them together in the interests of the patient is not as simple as it might appear.”

But the spokesman said work was being done to improve the process and reduce delays.

The £3.8bn Better Care Fund was announced by the Government in the June 2013 to help plug the gap between hospital and social leading to delays in being discharged.

The trust spokesman added: “We are working with our commissioners in the clinical commissioning groups and our partners in social care under the Better Care Fund to look at seven day working which we hope will lead to a decrease in delays.

“From our point of view we very much welcome this joint working because we are seeing these patients every day and we know that delays can be frustrating for them and their family.”

The figures were released by health commissioners NHS England.