The number of delayed transfers of care in England has dropped by 10% over the last year, with a relatively small amount of cases caused by equipment delays. according to new data.
Analysis by NHS England reveals that there were 130,800 total delayed days in April 2019, which is equivalent to 4,361 hospital beds, down from 145,300 delayed days in April 2018, equivalent to 4,845 beds.
The proportion of delays – or bed blocking – attributable to social care has also decreased over the last year to 27.4%, compared to 30.7% in March 2018.
Meanwhile, NHS hold-ups, including patients awaiting for further non-acute NHS care, were blamed for 61.6% of unnecessary stays in hospital.
The main reason for social care delays in April 2019 was patients awaiting a care package in their own home. This accounted 11,400 delayed days and 31.7% of all social care hold-ups.
Other reasons for social care delays were patients awaiting the completion of an assessment (6,354 delayed days) and patients awaiting spaces in residential homes (9,251 delayed days).
Comparatively, awaiting community equipment and adaptations was a relatively low cause of delayed transfers of care, with around 3,000 cases blamed on waits for mobility aids in April 2019.
Commenting on the findings, Steve Ellis, CEO of Legal & General Retirement Living Solutions, said: “We can wait for politicians to move the debate on social care into real action, but businesses can and are acting now to create a better care system, ultimately reducing pressure on the NHS.
“Technology like Care Sourcer is disrupting this market, making it much easier and quicker for people to find the care a patient or a loved one needs. Instead of days or weeks, technology like this can help people to find care in hours and it’s already proven to reduce delayed transfer of care by 40%.
But despite some positive movement in reducing unnecessary hospital stays, Ellis believes we still have a long way to go.
“There is a missing link between care providers and those in need that is leaving many people in hospital for much longer than they should be.
“This means vital beds are occupied unnecessarily and critical operations are cancelled – it can even affect the health of those remaining in hospital. A seven day wait in a hospital bed can cut a person’s muscle strength by 10%.”