Millions of pounds for Cambridgeshire to tackle bed blocking

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Local healthcare will get a boost over the winter after the Health Secretary offered cash to help tackle Cambridgeshire’s bed blocking problem.

There are hopes a new fund set up by Health Secretary Matt Hancock will help alleviate winter pressures on the local health care system. The so-called “Hancock monies” of £254 million were announced earlier in the year as a way to help boost the NHS. The intention is to help local health care systems avoid succumbing to some of the winter pressures that impacted on the health service last year.

"Bed blocking", or delayed transfer of care, is when physically-fit patients are kept in hospital due to a non-clinical reason.

"Bed blocking", or delayed transfer of care, is when physically-fit patients are kept in hospital due to a non-clinical reason.

The Hancock monies were announced at the Conservative conference as a one off boost for the financial year of 2018/19. Following this, further funding was announced for 2019/20 as part of the Autumn Budget.

Of the £254 million Cambridgeshire will get just over £2.3 million. Last week Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults Committee unanimously voted to approve the investment of the £2.395 million.

Will Patten, director of commissioning at Cambridgeshire County Council, said the money should be spent on alleviating winter pressures, particularly helping to reduce delayed transfers of care (commonly known as bed blocking) where someone who has been cleared to receive care at home or be discharged from hospital continue to occupy a hospital bed.

The money, the committee heard, will help with domiciliary care so hospitals can discharge people earlier and speed up the assessment process.

Mr Patten said: “It’s clear our adult social care problems are primarily because of lack of domiciliary care capacity.”

Mr Patten said the money would help pay for more capacity and additional 10 re-ablement workers who could help people outside hospitals.

Cllr Susan van de Ven welcomed the extra cash, but questioned how sustainable it is to recruit more people with money that may only be a one-off.

“It’s only a one off but clearly these issues will almost undoubtedly occur next year,” said Cllr van de Ven. “We hope this will become regular money. If one off money is to recruit more staff, how is that a sustainable proposition?”

Mr Patten said: “Recruitment is and will remain a challenge. We are running campaigns around recruiting reablement workers.”

Josh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service