Cambridgeshire has put itself forward for a “quick and dirty” peer review into health services after revelations last month that the county had a problem with bed blocking in its hospitals.
Bed blocking – also known as “delayed transfer of care” – is what happens when a patient who doctors have said is fit to leave is still occupying a hospital bed. The resulting loss of capacity can have knock-on effects on whether hospitals are able to take on more patients.
Though there has been an improvement in the situation since then, there are still warnings parts of the health care system are experiencing “unprecedented financial challenges” and that more needs to be done to help the situation.
Initially, it was anticipated the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would seek a review into social care and health services in Cambridgeshire as a result of the poor performance. Now, however, Cambridgeshire has put itself forward for a peer review, in the hopes more can be learned about how to tackle bed blocking and improve health care.
Cllr Peter Topping, chairman of the health board, said the county council was seeking a “peer review” after the CQC put off their review into the “poor performance” of the county’s health services.
Cllr Topping said: “Originally, there was going to be CQC review of social care and health services in Cambridgeshire because of the poor performance. But that seems to have been put off, partly because of the improvement in performance.
“We are proposing for ourselves that we get a peer review to give us some analysis of the situation, rather than just wait for the CQC.
“This is a proactive approach. I think it is a sensible thing to do and will give us ideas from other parts of the country.”
Cllr Topping said he hoped the peer review could take place as soon as possible. He said a small team, including representatives from the NHS, members of councils from around the country, and a senior councillor (probably a council leader), would conduct the peer review.
He said it would be a “quick and dirty” review, taking about four days to complete, rather than a lengthy six-month process. He said he hoped it could be underway within the next couple of months.
The board heard that the county’s health services were facing “unprecedented financial challenges,” and that, while the situation was improving, steps needed to be taken to avoid the same situation arising next time there is a period of intense need.
Jan Thomas, acting interim chief officer at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said bed blocking remained an issue for local health services.
“DTOCing is such an important issue – everyone has really rallied round it,” she said.
“We need to understand it to act in the best interests of patients. We need to focus on the outcomes, rather than worrying about the numbers and who is holding us to account. We must solve this problem together.”
Byline: Josh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service