England

Oxfordshire council charged over 'bed blocking'

A health trust is to charge a council £10,000, claiming it is not doing enough to prevent "bed blocking".

Royal Berkshire Hospital said some Oxfordshire patients could be discharged earlier but are remaining on wards due to a lack of care provision.

The hospital's trust will backdate charges to April.

John Jackson, Oxfordshire County Council's Director for Social and Community Services, said there needed to be a radical overhaul of the system.

Three-year high

Concerns were raised at a recent council of governors meeting at the Reading-based hospital.

It was revealed the number of delayed discharges was static for patients from South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire.

Berkshire West NHS has allocated £1m to solve the problem, half of which has been used to buy places.

The hospital's chief executive Ed Donald said in a report he had confirmed the charges.

"Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell are all achieving minimal delayed discharges," he added.

Mr Jackson said the pressures within the system needed a radically different approach.

"That is about stopping people going into hospital who don't need to go in and actually getting people out very quickly from hospital," he added.

In September it was claimed the number of people staying in Oxfordshire's hospitals longer than they need had nearly doubled in recent months.

The figure reached a three-year high of 135 patients who have been delayed in leaving care facilities.

NHS Oxfordshire said it was due to inadequate care provision at home and a shortage of care home places.

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