Hospital 'bed blocking' rises sharply in Kent

Hospital ward with patients in bed Image copyright VT Freeze Frame
Image caption More patients are waiting longer to leave Kent hospitals

The time spent by patients bed-blocking hospitals in Kent has almost doubled in a year, according to a new report.

Kent County Council's study of NHS figures said 4,509 days were lost in December to patients who were medically fit but whose transfer was delayed.

In the same month for the previous year, 2,331 days were lost, the figures showed.

One factor was a rise in fragile and elderly patients in A&E, said Kent county councillor Graham Gibbens.

The Kings Fund health charity pointed to cuts in social services and "process issues in NHS hospitals".

The charity's analyst James Thompson said: "It is not good for (patients) to be lying on a bed not using their muscles, in a setting very different from their homes."

Image copyright Kent County Council
Image caption Delayed transfers of care from Kent's hospitals have doubled in a year

Roger Goldfinch said his late wife Margarita "was fit to come out of hospital before Christmas" but was not discharged "until February".

"There was an argument about who would fund her care when she came home and who would organise it," he said.

Mr Gibbens said: "Sometimes one carer is not sufficient. We have to work with GPs and providers to make sure the right provision is there."

Figures issued on Thursday indicated delays in Kent rose further in February, to 4,929 days lost.

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust said there were a "variety of reasons" which "involve the whole Kent care system - not just our Trust" and it was working with partners "to achieve a system-wide improvement".

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said some patients were "waiting for nursing home placement and continuing healthcare in the community" and it was "a challenge for the whole health economy".

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