Two elderly patients have been in hospital for two years even though they do not need treatment. Both women have been fit to leave the hospital since April 2004, the so called "bed blockers", have not got discharged because of a mixture of "family and funding issues" the hospital sources said.
The authorities said that the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, Hants, which is spending a lot on these two women is already facing huge losses, almost bout £3million in deficit. They said that the cost of looking after the pair in a general medical ward is £246 each per day, which they say is more than double the cost of putting them up at a deluxe hotel.
The hospital authorities said that they launched legal action to get one of the patients moved to a home to stop the NHS footing the bill. In the other case, they are seeking legal advice. They reported that in total the hospital has 25 patients well enough to go home but are blocking the beds, meaning that together the beds being wasted are roughly the size of one general ward.
A hospital spokeswoman said that it would be best for everyone's interests for patients to be discharged as soon as they are well enough to leave. One of the reasons for bed-blocking the authorities say, in affluent areas like Hampshire problems can arise when patients have substantial assets such as property and families are unwilling to sell the homes to fund care. The other problems they feel are the lack of suitable services once they leave hospital, such as home care or physiotherapy.
The NHS has asked the local authorities and hospital trusts have to work together to make sure well patients are discharged promptly, but in these two cases Hampshire County Council is not directly involved. From 2004 the NHS has been collecting a fine of £100 per day from the councils if they fail to organise care for patients well enough to leave hospital. Hampshire County Council was fined £120,000 last year for bed blocking by the Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital. Hampshire County Council said there was now a £60million project with the NHS to provide 500 nursing care beds in the county.