Will new winter care plan ease bed-blocking in Lancashire hospitals?

County Coun Geoff Driver
County Coun Geoff Driver

Lancashire County Council has unveiled its plans to help reduce hospital “bed blocking” and meet spikes in demand for social care over the winter period.

The plan, which comes into effect on October 1, includes recruiting weekend social workers, creating a travelling team to plug staffing gaps and extending provision of mental health services over weekends and in the evening up to 8pm.

Royal Preston Hospital - part of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust

Royal Preston Hospital - part of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust

In addition adult social care hospital and community team workers leave will be restricted in both December and January. Twelve social work staff will be on duty at hospitals on key days over the Christmas and new year holiday periods and an emergency duty team will cover for emergencies on Christmas Day.

But a report, presented to the Lancashire Health and Welbeing Board yesterday, warned that the coming months would “prove additionally challenging for adult social care” due to ongoing delays in transfers of care, the council’s finances and workforce pressures.

Bed blocking is the term used to describe the situation where patients are fit to leave hospital, but continue to occupy a bed because there is no appropriate place for them to move to for continuing care such as a nursing home or home for the elderly or ongoing care packages have not been finalised.

Afterwards Karen Partington, Chief Executive Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust declined to comment.

Committee chairman Coun Geoff Driver said: “It’s absolutely vital we have a plan, it’s equally vital we keep that plan under review as circumstances develop so if we need to change it we do.”

Last winter the council spent an extra £720,000 on measures to ease the 2016/17 bed blocking and care crisis.

Consultants Newton have advised the council on improving transfers of care from hospital .

The winter plan will now go to health trusts and health providers including service area delivery boards.